Resources are available for students experiencing technological difficulties
(Lily Lee/Daily Bruin)
Oct. 6, 2020 10:41 p.m.
This post was updated Oct. 11 at 1:45 p.m.
UCLA and student government offices are offering university grants and lending hardware to students who need technological access during remote learning.
Some students lack stable Wi-Fi or proper equipment for remote learning and may have to share these resources with family members, said Zuleika Bravo, the Undergraduate Students Association Council transfer student representative.
UCLA will use leftover funding from the Bruin Technology Grant to offer additional grants to undergraduate students this fall, said Dean of Undergraduate Education Adriana Galván and Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships Ina Sotomayor in an emailed statement. The grant debuted last spring quarter and gave $1.2 million to 965 grants for technology used to attend classes, the statement said.
The number of grants for fall quarter will depend on student needs and the amount of money UCLA is able to raise, Galván said in a separate statement.
Additionally, fall grants will not take housing contracts into account, unlike the past spring quarter, when students who had canceled their housing contracts could not apply for the fund, the statement said.
The USAC Academic Affairs Commission is in charge of another USAC-run project that gives students grants to purchase school supplies. The 2020 to 2021 Books for Bruins fund, which grants students funding for textbooks or technology, received $30,000 from USAC’s surplus budget at the Sept. 22 council meeting.
The AAC also partnered with the Office of the Transfer Student Representative to help market and promote library and campus resources to all students.
“What we’re trying to do is trying to raise the awareness of these resources that we have in the library that a lot of people aren’t aware of; (these) are resources that they can access,” Bravo said.
UCLA Library currently has more than 1,000 pieces of technology equipment available to undergraduate and graduate students living in North America through its equipment lending program, according to library inventory reports. All equipment is free and the library covers shipping costs, said Todd Grappone, associate university librarian for digital initiatives and information technology.
The library had loaned around 45% of its technology, including iPads, laptops and MiFis — portable hotspots that can provide internet for up to 10 people — as of late September, according to inventory reports. The library has received more than 600 requests for the lending program since early September.
For graduate students, who are not eligible for the Bruin Tech Grant but are able to check out library resources, there are other university resources.
Academic Senate employees, such as teaching assistants, graders, tutors, readers or other members of the United Auto Workers Local 2865 union can contact the department that hired them and the union for help accessing the resources they need to complete their work, said Graduate Students Association Vice President of Academic Affairs Letty Treviño.
The GSA is also distributing a barriers to education survey, in which graduate students can express any difficulties they may be facing so GSA can understand how to advocate for students’ needs, according to the Google survey form.
GSA set up a Hardship Fund from surplus funding in the spring to provide students with emergency funding. The availability of the Hardship Fund in the fall will depend on how much money is allocated from the surplus fund, Treviño said. As a previous member of the committee that oversaw the fund applications, Treviño said the committee prioritized students with dependents that had experienced a reduction in income.
Parenting students should reach out to the Student with Dependents Program at UCLA, which offers resources for students with dependents, opportunities to connect with peers and updates on policies, according to its website.
UCLA also offers a grant of $2,000 for undergraduate parenting students through its financial aid office. Students with dependents can also apply for grants through the California Student Aid Commission.
Certain student communities face distinct challenges when it comes to remote learning, Bravo said.
Bravo said that she wants to raise awareness about the challenges that online learning poses for transfer students and students with disabilities in her position on the Response and Recovery Task Force, a committee which guides UCLA’s pandemic response and reopening plans and wants to advocate for user-friendly websites, technology equipment and other learning materials.
“A lot of our community identifies with students with disabilities, and so it makes it really hard for them to learn online, and so I just want to bring those (issues) to the forefront in the committee,” Bravo said.
USAC is looking for ways to help international transfer students, Bravo said. International transfer students are ineligible for state or federal grants, and students who live outside of North America cannot receive equipment from the library.
“We’re trying to figure out what we can do to help those students,” Bravo said. “It’s really hard because UCLA is not putting up money right now for students since they’re losing money.”
Grappone said he is hopeful the library’s equipment can help students’ fall learning experience.
“We spent a lot of time putting these things together for students … over the summer,” Grappone said. “Just getting the technology in, set up and ready to get shipped out; shipping the equipment out, standing up the virtual services, so hopefully the student experience will be pretty good for the fall.”