By Victor Tence
Approximately 30 people have registered for a new program which officially grants access to the shower facilities at Ocean Campus to students experiencing homelessness.
Acting on an assembly bill passed in 2016, the City College board of trustees approved the shower access policy at their Feb. 22, 2018 meeting.
The state law requires all community colleges with shower facilities provide access to students experiencing homelessness who are enrolled in coursework, have paid enrollment fees, and are in good standing with the college.
“This is a good thing…this was developed to be in compliance with state law. It is actually an expansion of access, not a restriction of access,” Chancellor Mark Rocha said at the February board of trustees meeting.
Students experiencing homelessness can sign up through the Homeless At Risk Transitional Students (HARTS) program. They must provide their student I.D., verify their units, their standing with the college, and a verification of homelessness.
While the students do not need to be registered with the HARTS program itself, they must be enrolled at City College.
Once approved, students are given a letter of access endorsed by the HARTS program. The letter is valid for only one month and then must be renewed. The policy states the showers will only be open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A modified schedule will be posted in the event the hours conflict with an academic event.
While the board of trustees enthusiastically approved the policy, some students voiced confusion and concern that this change was actually limiting unofficial shower access that was already in place.
“Perhaps I’m a dinosaur, but I remember many years ago, the gym was open. Anybody could go in there and take a shower…now I see a tremendous amount of restrictions on access,” said Peter Warfield, a City College student said.
The confusion stems from the open-door honor policy that the Wellness Center currently uses for shower access.
Before the policy change, only students enrolled in specific gym classes were officially allowed to use the showers. However, there is no system in place to verify people using the facilities are enrolled. The lockers and showers remain open with no attendant to verify students are members of the department or even students at all.
As a result, showers have been open to all comers for years—albeit unofficially.