Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

A statue of Marshalls iconic M logo just outside Old Main.
University Makes Final Preparations for Campus Carry
Evan Green, Executive Editor • April 22, 2024
View All
Check won the javelin throw with a distance of 36.26 meters.
Track and Field Trounce James Madison Invitational
Wade Sullivan, Student Reporter • April 20, 2024
View All
Walk For Hope Flyer

Courtesy of Phi Alpha
Walk for Hope to Shine Light on Suicide Prevention
Baylee Parsons, Copy Editor • April 19, 2024
View All
The Parthenon on Twitter

Starving for Change: Reflections on the Unpassed Campus Hunger-Free Bill

West+Virginia+Capitol+Building+located+in+Charleston%2C+West+Virginia
Courtesy of Austin O’Connor
West Virginia Capitol Building located in Charleston, West Virginia

Over the course of the last couple of legislative sessions, the West Virginia legislature has continued to disregard the safety and well-being of students. Last session, the legislature passed the campus carry legislation which will allow, beginning next semester, the concealed carry of firearms on campus—legislation that was vehemently opposed by the student body and faculty at universities across the state. Yet, with a myriad of legislation this session targeting transgender individuals, book bans and other social issues, it seems that the legislature had one opportunity to make a positive impact on the students of West Virginia: passing the Hunger Free Campus bill.

The HFC would provide West Virginia universities with funding to create and expand food pantries; services to help students secure food assistance programs; meal share programs and more. The impact of this legislation is great. According to a national report by the Government Accountability Office, 30% of college students are food insecure. Yet, at the two largest universities in West Virginia, the statistics could be better. An independent study by WVU found that 45% of its students are food insecure, with 28% at Marshall University. With the legislation championed by our very own Student Body President Walker Tatum, it was the first time in recent history that the HFC made headway in the legislature, with passage in the Senate. It is the House in which the legislation would eventually meet its demise and ultimately be killed off.

But in a myriad of debates in the legislature, the concerns from the opposition who struck down this policy are incredibly flawed by nature, often paradoxical. One of the concerns from the vocal Sen. Azigner is that, “People go to college. Sometimes you don’t have food. Sometimes you get hungry. It’s life,” and that “It builds character. Nobody starves to death.” 

Yet, studies show that while students may not starve to death, its impacts are quantifiably damaging to the WV student body. Studies from the American Psychological Association and Johns Hopkins have shown that food insecurity and poor nutrition can cause higher rates of depression, anxiety, and lower self-esteem; the impacts of which can lead to a 43% increased  likelihood of dropping out of the institution., Besides the impact of possible dropouts and mental health issues, there is also physical health as well, with a peer-reviewed study from the CDC finding that food insecurity increases the risk of chronic diseases, infectious diseases, and poor oral health. 

Story continues below advertisement

Another concern was the cost, with the bill allocating a million dollars a year towards the program, as the opposition saw this as too great a cost to bear. I find it a bit ironic that the legislature is complaining about the costs of public goods, while simultaneously cutting its source revenue by slashing taxes for the rich in West Virginia, whose dollars would help fund the programs above and more. Even at the opposition’s highest point of this bill being an expensive investment, the investment is well worth it, as retention of students means a more educated workforce—which in turn produces more revenue for the state. BBER study has illuminated the value of an educated workforce. Analyzing West Virginia college graduates’ contributions to the state’s economy, the study found that the 6,300 graduates from the class of 2010 employed in-state at the time of the study will generate nearly $6 billion in revenue over 20 years. However, it costs just $1.4 billion to educate them. Meaning that the investment will pay huge dividends to the state in the future, making the cost a worthwhile investment.

To the West Virginia legislators, who have once again failed to represent the constituency of students in your state, because hunger is not humbling: it’s harmful. I hope that with the next legislative session, the voices of the students who are in the most need are heard by our legislators, and their advocacy does not once again fall on deaf ears—because empty promises don’t fill empty stomachs.

Sources:

1. U.S. Government Accountability Office (U.S. Gao). Government Accountability Office. (2018, December).
2. Pagán, La Shawn. “Bill Aims to End Hunger on College Campuses.” Mountain State Spotlight. (27 Feb. 2024)
3. Ibiol
4. Stringer, H. . Reducing hunger on campus: Psychologists are studying the effects of food insecurity among college students and developing solutions to help. American Psychological Association. (2020, March 1)
5. Food insecurity during college years linked to lower graduation rate. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2021, September 1).
6. Berkowitz, S. A., Basu, S., Gundersen, C., & Seligman, H. K. . State-level and county-level estimates of health care costs associated with food insecurity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, July 11)
7. O’Leary, Sean. “The West Virginia Fiscal Year 2024 Budget.” West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, (Apr. 2023)
8. Swisher, Katlin. “The Economic Impact of Higher Education.” West Virginia Executive Magazine, (13 Nov. 2017)

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Parthenon
$85
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will help continue the work of independent student journalism at Marshall University. If you benefit from The Parthenon's free content, please consider making a donation.

More to Discover
Donate to The Parthenon
$85
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Parthenon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *