Petition for Houseless Students: Snail Movement

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Dear University Officials,

As UCSC students, Santa Cruz residents, and human beings, we are asking for the University to address a very important problem impacting our community. UCSC students, unable to afford rent, are living in our vehicles without safe places to park. Because there is little affordable housing and loans can damage the financial future of students, we are asking the University for three things.

Allow houseless students:

1. to sleep in their vehicles

2. to park for free overnight

3. to have access to a community space with kitchen and bathrooms.

According to financial aid information in US universities, there are more than 68,000 college students experiencing homelessness. One Silicon Valley study reported that over 44% of California students were experiencing homelessness or lack of access to secure housing. We as UCSC students are experiencing this right now.

Some of us make the choice to move into a car or van just to be able to get through school, fearing the instability of not finding a place to live. Others find ourselves unable to pay for housing and turn to van life when facing eviction. The more time we spend living in our vehicles, the more we are exposed to other people in the same situation. Whether individuals sleep in their vehicles because of finances, life trauma, lack of support, evictions, or personal convictions, we deserve basic human dignity. The main challenges of living in a vehicle range from access to safety, cookware and food, bathrooms and showers, and a quiet night's rest.

Everyone in precarious living situations knows how vital it is to have access to basic needs. At the same time, it is hard to ask for help when doing so can threaten our lifestyle. We have been sleeping in our vehicles only to be woken up by UCSC police in the middle of the night. Imagine going to sleep not knowing if you are going to be woken up by searchlights. When the UCSC police officers wake us up, they order us to leave campus and find parking in the city.

Yet sleeping on off-campus streets is no better. We are woken up by people who purposefully drive by our vehicles and honk their horns in the morning to harass us, even in non-residential areas. Moreover, parking off-campus often results in aggressive letters from neighbors and contact with potentially threatening individuals. This is just another challenge we students face while going to school.

What we need is a safe place to park and to be treated with dignity and care so that all students can continue to pursue their college education.

We propose:

• The University community establish a policy of non-enforcement of campus camping laws or establish a safe parking program at UCSC for students, including designated lots with adequate lighting, where students can sleep safely and without fear.

• The University provide this service for free, since students sleeping on the streets have little access to economic resources.

• The University provide a community facility with a kitchen and bathrooms so students can have access to basic resources as well as have a place to gather and build community.

• The University attend an open and transparent discussion with us, in the East Remote Parking Lot, in front of the community and witnesses.

• We need a lawyer to donate their services to us so we can have a fruitful conversation about the liability issue with the University lawyers.

This is also an invitation for the City of Santa Cruz and other entities to establish safe parking programs in the city and elsewhere for those who suffer the same challenges.

We invite California to follow our lead.

Thank you.