Eastern Michigan University senior Ramone Williams will no longer be homeless soon after a successful crowd funding campaign for him raised more than $25,000. Williams says schools need to do more to help other students like him.
Ramone Williams is still in shock by how many strangers were moved to help him after reading about his struggle in Bridge Magazine last month. “It was a surprise. I did not expect a GoFundMe page to start up. I did not expect that story to get that much traction at all. I just thought it would be a cool story for people to read, to know about the struggles of some college student because I know I’m not alone.”
Williams is far from alone. According to data collected through the federal application for student aid, 58,000 students identified as homeless in 2013. But not all schools have support services for homeless students and Williams says, those that do, like EMU, are not paying attention to students’ most crucial needs:
“I think Eastern Michigan could do a lot more for students like me. Not that I’m looking for help, but just as simple as leaving a place or two open for students who don’t have anywhere to go for the holidays. Or when campus is closed. The campus was entirely closed and I had to figure out where to go and where I was going to sleep. Then it was a struggle because I didn’t have the van to go to because it was 20 degrees outside. I had to really think about what I was going to do over break.”
Megan DeVoe is a graduate assistant with EMU’s MAGIC Program, a campus-based services center for homeless and former foster care students. She says the group currently works with about 20 young adults enrolled at EMU. “As far as our relationship with administration, it’s definitely been growing in light of recent advancements in attention brought to the program. We have a lot of visions about what we’d like it to become.” DeVoe says one of the program’s goals is creating a need-based scholarship for low income students who receive no financial assistance from their family.
University of Michigan officials say the school doesn’t have support services specifically for homeless students, but the Dean of Students Office can help those with temporary problems finding housing.