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Rep Torres Unveils BASIC Act at Mt. SAC News Conference

Rep. Torres' press conference participants

November 06, 2019 - 02:00 PM

Rep. Torres speaksMt. SAC was the location where Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (CA-35) unveiled the Basic Assistance for Students in College (BASIC) Act, which is a bill that would provide half a billion dollars in funding for colleges to provide for the basic needs (food security, stable housing, and access to federal aid benefits) of their students    

Rep. Torres interviewed by a TV news crew“A student worried about keeping a roof over their head, or where their next meal will come from, is not focused on learning,” said Rep. Torres. “A great education should not come at the expense of a student’s well-being.”

Congresswoman Torres was joined by Mt. SAC and UC Riverside students who are right now striving to make ends meet.

Daija Lopez (center) with Koji Uesugi, Dead of Student Services (L) and Rigo Estrada, Basic Needs Coordinator (R)“I work two jobs and I am taking three classes,” explained Daija Lopez, a Radio Technology and Sociology major at Mt. SAC. “I fall behind in my classes. I struggle because I am so tired at work.”

Student Merlin Diaz spoke of the financial hardships of being a young mother and studentThe BASIC Act provides for a dual approach to ensure students’ basic needs are met. The legislation provides $500 million in grants to help institutions of higher learning support their students, and streamlines aid coordination across the federal government.

Torres also brought university and public school officials with her, as well as leaders of local non-profits currently helping students. They spoke of the needs students are facing in the current economic climate with college tuitions continuing to rise.Rep. Torres speaks at news conference

The California Student Aid Commission’s 2018-19 Student Expense & Resources Survey found that 35% of California Rep. Torres (center) with Mt. SAC Board of Trustees Gary Chow (L) and Roseanne Bader (R)college students have low or very low food security, and 33% are housing insecure. At Mt. SAC, 46% of students are food insecure and 56% are housing insecure.

This need led the school to recently create the Mountie Fresh Basic Needs Resources program, which puts on Merlin Diaz speaksthe monthly food pantry (click to see a video), housing referrals and case management support. Rep. Torres’s bill would support programs like this in colleges across the country.

More information about the BASIC Act is available on Congresswoman Torres' website.Audience member films Merlin speak