By Cierra Martinez @CIERRAMARIE26
According to website www.leginfo.ca.gov 2016 California Legislature Assemblyman Das Williams has authored AB 1995, which would allow homeless students access to community college shower facilities.
The website states, “This bill would require a community college campus that has shower facilities for student use to grant access to those facilities to any homeless student who is enrolled in coursework, has paid enrollment fees, and is in good standing with the community college district.”
Vice President Alex Galeana, of External Affairs for the Student Senate for California Community Colleges claims, “By legislating that homeless students have this opportunity, we are not only giving them the fundamental right to be and to feel clean, but also showing them that we, as a state, are investing in their personal and academic well-being.”
Galeana also currently works at a nonprofit organization that deals with higher education policy. Galeana explains how she and her group were inspired to push the bill, “Various community colleges across the state currently ban homeless students from using their shower facilities without enrolling in a physical education course. This provides an unnecessary barrier for California’s homeless students, as this is a demographic that not only has to worry about doing well in school, but also where they’re going to wake up in the morning before they go to class.”
Gerson Liahut-Sanchez, a student at East Los Angeles College and Santa Monica College, is currently serving as the Vice President of Legislative Affairs for the Student Senate for California Community Colleges.
Sanchez adds, “LA has one of the biggest homeless rates in CA and in the nation. In advocating for this bill, I met tons of students who are identified as homeless and as the bill progressed more and more, it became a personal manner to the team.”
Sanchez explains, “SMC tried to implement a pilot program but was quickly shut down by administration. When that happened it was like a fire began to burn furiously within ourselves. How could a college who claims to service the community do that? At the start, many told our team that this bill was pointless and that what it wants to achieve can be achieved at a local level. But, through our research we found that 47 colleges bar their students from their facilities. With the passage of this bill it will give students from those 47 schools the ability to have those facilities opened to them.”
Hoping to spread awareness of young homeless students Sanchez concludes, “Our hopes is that the state begins to take these issues very seriously. This is only the beginning for our advocacy for homeless students. As for after-effects, I’m not entirely sure what their is to come, the local districts have guidelines so it’s now in the hands of local students to make the push to make the guidelines as lax as possible.”
Sanchez would like to give shout out to the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC) for the immense support and all the Legislative Affairs Directors that put in the hard work to get this through. He would also like to give huge shout out to Nicholas Steil for authoring the resolution that gave birth to AB1995 and “being one of the most hardworking External Affairs Senators that sought this bill through.”