With all the emails and the notifications being bombarded on students, it can be overwhelming to have to sort through all the material that is accessible in the Rutgers community. Students are more in need than ever of job, financial, living and food support. Here are some of the things that are available to students around or on campus at Rutgers.
Rutgers Mutual Aid
Rutgers Mutual Aid is “a platform for students and members of the Rutgers community to share resources and support in response to (the coronavirus disease) COVID-19 impacting Rutgers operations, according to its Facebook page. “Mutual Aid” initiatives have been born out of the understanding that it is hard for immunocompromised people in the midst of COVID-19 to go out and get groceries for themselves.
There has been an increased usage of Google Docs and Google Sheets where people are encouraged to input their contact information so that others who need the support can reach out and ask for help, according to Vox.
In New York City, the idea is that people in communities can help one another with simple favors or actions. This allows for direct and quick help without the hassle of having to go through the bureaucratic process, which can often be unhelpful or too slow to meet the needs of the people.
COVID-19 Mutual Aid U.S.A. is another mutual aid group that sprung out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its mission statement is: “The basic idea is to coordinate care efforts for people who are self-isolating, especially if they are part of a more at risk demographic including the elderly, disabled and those with pre-existing health conditions.”
Rutgers’s Mutual Aid Facebook page is a resource for all University students experiencing hardship at home right now. It promotes organizations, such as the New Brunswick Tenants Union, that has advocated for the suspension of “rent and utility payments, extended eviction and foreclosure moratorium and an extended ban on utility shut-offs and universal service mandate.”
It also advertises local community events, such as the Emergency Free Farm Market that happened this past April 4 in Lambertville, New Jersey. These are just some of the resources and events that the page promotes. It would be highly suggested to check out more information from its page.
Rutgers Student Food Pantry
Once Rutgers—New Brunswick campus closed down, I’m sure some students returned home without a second thought about conditions on campus. Naturally, it’s easy to get caught up in the anxiety and fear of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean our neighbors or our classmates aren’t experiencing other issues, such as where to find food.
The only two dining halls left open on campus are Brower Commons and Busch Dining Hall, but even those have reduced hours now. For more information on Rutgers—New Brunswick meal options, the Dining Services page is the best source. As can be expected, there is so much uncertainty abound, with many vendors on Rutgers campus having varying hours and all New Jersey restaurants being asked to only serve take-out.
Regardless, students worried about food security have been able to use the Rutgers Student Food Pantry even before the pandemic. Since fall of 2016, this food pantry has been 1 of 20 food pantries present in New Brunswick. "The pantry is stocked by donations from Rutgers Against Hunger, Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services and private donations,” according to the Rutgers Student Food Pantry website.
When Rutgers canceled classes, the Rutgers Student Food Pantry moved to the Graduate Student Lounge, 126 College Ave., next to the Student Center on the College Avenue campus, ready to serve the demand on campus and the students who need them most.
Active Minds at Rutgers
In this current pandemic environment, it’s important to keep a healthy and positive mental attitude. “It’s okay to not be at your most productive during a global f***ing pandemic,” according to Active Minds Rutgers’ Instagram account.
I wouldn’t take this advice facetiously. It must be hard for anyone to study in these conditions. I know I experience this problem. From online news to the oppressing nature of staying cooped up indoors for days, being a productive and happy student can seem a ridiculous and impractical notion.
Active Minds recently posted an article from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) which urges students to remember a few tips and to make sure to have an emotional support system in place. Of these tips, it is important to remember to keep being knowledgeable on COVID-19 updates but to make sure that the source you are using is credible. It’s not necessary to read scare news, rather it’s important to stay reasonably informed and comfortable with talking about what is happening in the world around us.
NAMI is America’s largest grassroots mental health organization. It is composed of many local affiliates affecting national public policy, communicating with thousands of individuals through its NAMI HelpLine and offering educational programs. As CEO of NAMI, Daniel H. Gillison, Jr. said, “Now, more than ever, it’s important to remember that there is no health without mental health.”
To help with just that, Active Minds hosts workshops, movie screenings and conferences all in an effort to promote proper mental health on campus. Its mission statement is, “We arm students with the techniques to help them manage stress and encourage students to be advocates and support systems for their peers.” Its helpful guidance and tips go a long way in brightening up my day. Take a look if you get the chance.
These are only a few options on campus and in the nation that you are free to research more about and make use of. No matter the resource you avail yourself to, make sure to keep pushing forward. The world isn’t stopping or surrendering to this virus — the world is fighting and you can too.