On Feb. 4, Humboldt State University released a press release saying that the institution has been granted another $16 million in federal stimulus funds. At least $5 million is specifically designated for emergency financial aid grants for students. How the remaining $11 million is going to be used has yet to be determined.
According to Enrollment Management Director Jason Meriwether, the money designated for students can be requested now by students who are in need of financial relief. Students who do want to request the fund immediately can contact Peggy Metzger, Humboldt State’s financial aid director. An email will also be sent out to students notifying them that they can ask for emergency funding.
“The funds are an incredible resource for our campus to enhance safety protocols, evolve instructional space and technology, expand student support, and improve operational efficiencies,” Interim Vice President for Administration & Finance Sherie C. Gordon said in a press release.
The university is seeking the help of key staff, faculty, and student groups across campus to ensure a unanimous decision on where the funds are going to be allocated.
The request for the campus community’s help comes as groups across campus feel indifferent about the allocation of these funds.
On Dec. 9, 2020 Humboldt County’s Faculty Association launched a campaign to push pause on cutting classes or faculty positions in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The campaign also addressed that planning for budget cuts two years from now is premature because the Biden administration may approve a stimulus package before the end of the school year that could have the potential to make a financial difference for HSU.
Grant Scott-Goforth, HSU’s communications specialist, responded to questions regarding how these one time resources could be used to potentially tackle HSU’s budget deficit and allow them to make adjustments to the $20 million reduction plan.
“The $20 million budget shortfall makes ongoing spending reductions necessary,” Scott-Goforth said in an emailed statement. “The CARES funding is intended to support students and to offset losses and pandemic related costs.”
Each university in the CSU has felt similar losses to HSU. CFA members within each institution are challenging their administration to take advantage of allocated funds in equitable ways with faculty and staff in mind.
On Feb 4, the United Students Against Sweatshops student organization held a CSU statewide call to stand in solidarity with CFA members. The importance of students and faculty coming together was emphasized throughout.
The group discussed the need for Chancellor Joseph I. Castro to put an end to layoffs across the CSU as they highlight the CSU’s $1.7 billion in surplus funds.
“The spin they try to do with this money is that they will never say it is a surplus, they will always say that it is a designated balances and reserves,” Alex Vermie, one of the panelists on the call who was representing as a research analyst for Teamsters Local 2010 said.
The pandemic has caused universities across the CSU to suffer unpredictable losses. HSU is currently in a position to use the additional $11 million to help support students, as well as tackle a multitude of pandemic related issues.
The University is taking input through Feb 28 and will announce the final decisions in the first week of March.