California passes shower bill for homeless college students

Showers in the P.E. building are open to homeless students Monday through Thursday, from 7-8 a.m.

California community colleges will give shower access to students who are homeless at the beginning of 2017.

Assembly Bill 1995, proposed by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, requires community college campuses that have shower facilities to create a plan that would give homeless students access to those facilities.

Students must be taking courses, up to date on tuition fees and in good standing with the community college district, according to the Orange County Register, an Orange County local newspaper.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1995 on Sept. 23. On that same day, Williams published a press release on his website.

In the press release, Williams said he was homeless when he attended community college two decades ago, living in a vehicle and showering at the beach.

“This bill removes a major obstacle attending class for some people,” Williams said in the press release. “Students won’t have to skip class because of personal insecurities or fear about class acceptance if they are able to shower on campus.”

Cosumnes River College has responded to this bill by welcoming homeless students to use the showers in the PE building.

“We are still looking at ways this bill might affect the college, but we are allowing access to the showers in the PE building Monday through Thursday mornings from 7-8 a.m.,” said Kristie West, communications & public information officer.

Awareness about college student homelessness is something that isn’t easy to talk about. Addressing the issue starts when there is information available through multiple outlets letting students know that there are resources available, said Kathy Degn, EOPS coordinator at CRC.

“Very often, food insecurity and homelessness are tied together, and working with the Student Development where they have the food pantry the Hawk Spot, people can get food,” said Degn.

California State University staff, faculty and administrators estimated homeless students at 8.7% and food insecure students at 21%, according to the Serving Displaced and Food Insecure Students in the CSU study, conducted by the CSU Chancellor in 2015.

“As long as they’re students and they are enrolled in coursework here, they should have access to our facilities like every student has and the less intrusive we can make the actual access, the better we will be,” said Degn.

Along with CRC’s Hawk Spot food pantry CSUs are taking actions to help students.
California State University, Sacramento is among the 11 out of 23 CSUs to offer a food program according to the CSU study.

And with AB 1995, California Community Colleges are beginning to address homeless students’ needs.

“I feel a lot of people put homelessness as shameful,” said Alejandro Carmonma Anguino, sociology major.

“We want students to be in school and not having to worry about do I not smell or I haven’t taken a shower in three days. You shouldn’t worry about food or taking a shower; you should be worried about academics when you come here,” Anguino said.

Christy Johtson, an art major, expressed that she is okay with homeless students using shower facilities. “As long as it’s monitored, so you know they’re aren’t any off campus people,” Johtson said.

“I think it probably should be for just students, come in to feel safe and be able to use it.”