“We’re doing everything we can to help [students] look out for their physical and emotional well-being. For many students, direct financial assistance right now is a big part of that.” —Rose Pascarell, Vice President for University Life
Mason’s fourth annual Giving Day, Thursday, April 2, is normally an opportunity for every Patriot and friend to support their favorite cause or program at Mason.
With the extraordinary circumstances of the last few weeks, the effort has been completely reimagined and is now focused on a new purpose, providing urgent assistance to students in need, under the banner of Patriots Helping Patriots.
For that purpose, University Life has established a Student Emergency Assistance Fund aimed at getting much-needed assistance in the hands of Mason students now. After University Life made an online application form available on March 19, within one week more than 600 students had already applied for help. While the typical request is in the range of $1,000, the cumulative need totals more than $1 million, and rising each day.
“This is an incredibly uncertain time for everyone, but especially for our students. We’re hearing from many who are struggling to adapt to changing life circumstances and challenges,” said Vice President for University Life Rose Pascarell. “We’re doing everything we can to help them look out for their physical and emotional well-being. For many students, direct financial assistance right now is a big part of that.”
Some of the most common needs identified are help with essentials such as travel costs, paying rent, utility bills, childcare, and food. For students who have suddenly lost part-time (or full-time) jobs, their ability to complete the semester may be in question. With the shift from in-person classes to remote learning, many who typically could use university facilities to get online now need to purchase personal laptops or other technology in order to complete the semester.
Moving rapidly, in little more than a week University Life has already distributed more than $174,000 to 177 student recipients.
While Giving Day represents an important milestone in the drive to help students, the Patriots Helping Patriots campaign won’t end on April 2. Clearly, the need for urgent student assistance will continue through the end of the spring semester. And plans are being developed to expand the campaign to provide Mason alumni with ways to connect with each other more easily and provide mutual assistance during this period.
Rob Riordan / March 26, 2020