Community College Shower Access Bill Empowers Homeless Students
They Need No Longer Feel the Stigma of Being Smelly or Unkempt in Class
Friday, September 23, 2016
By Assemblymember Das Williams
During my six years in Sacramento as an assemblymember representing Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, I have had the pleasure and privilege to work on dozens of significant pieces of legislation.
I have fought my hardest to champion environmental, higher education and sustainable energy bills that have benefited my district and all California residents.
Sometimes legislation is complex and controversial. It involves compromise, team-building, standing your ground, and, often, vigorous debate. Sometimes, however, the most important bills can also be the most simple.
I authored AB 1995, a bill that allows homeless college students who are enrolled in coursework, have paid tuition fees, and are in good standing with the community college district to shower at community colleges. The bill enjoyed bipartisan support in the Legislature and was recently signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.
This bill is especially dear to me. The law historically has not allowed a student at a community college to use the shower facilities unless they were enrolled in physical education classes.
Across the nation, 58,000 students are homeless, according to data from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). California has the highest rate of homeless youth in the nation and twice the rate of homeless students than the national average. Of course, this number is higher because not all students willingly report that they are homeless due to the attached stigma.
I was once one of them. Nearly 25 years ago, I was a homeless college student, in need of a place to shower. Each homeless student’s story is different. I certainly did not have it as difficult as many others. Still, I know what it is like to be homeless and hungry, in need of a shower, and insecure about going to class and about my future. Read More