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New State Law Permits Homeless Students to Use Community College Campus Showers

California acts to help students who may be stigmatized or disinclined to go to class because they lack access to showering facilities

A bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last week opens up shower facilities at community colleges to homeless students who could use them.

Introduced by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, the law allows students who are in good standing with the college, are enrolled and have paid their enrollment fees, to use the facilities, which often are limited to students taking physical education courses.

The bill passed the state Senate and Assembly 33-1 and 73-4, respectively. Brown signed the legislation Wednesday.

“This bill removes a major obstacle to attending class for some people,” Williams said in a statement. “Students won’t have to skip class because of personal insecurities or fear about class acceptance if they are able to shower on campus.”

Students’ access to showers will only be during their gyms’ operating hours, according to the law.

At Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, there are currently 27 students who have identified themselves as homeless on the FAFSA, a federal financial aid form, according to Nohemy Ornelas, the college’s associate superintendent and vice president of student services.

“We identified this as a need long before legislation came about, and we do provide showers for our homeless students who identify themselves as needing them,” Ornelas told Noozhawk. “We’re working on developing a formalized process for this.”

The college provides such students with a shower, a locker and any toiletries they need, she said.

An emergency grant program for students who find themselves in a sudden crisis was established last year, as well, Ornelas said, and the college also follows a Student Equity Plan that aims to level the educational playing field for students with various needs.

Santa Barbara City College also offers a wide array of services for students facing any number of hardships, including food insecurity and raising a child as a single parent, said Luz Reyes-Martin, the college’s director of communications.

“We are committed to implementing the requirements of the law and doing everything we can to support our students experiencing homelessness,” she told Noozhawk.

The “shower bill” goes into effect Jan. 1.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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