Written By Naida Simon & Daisy Cordero
March of 2021 marked the one-year anniversary of the closure of most colleges and universities in Michigan due to COVID-19. Many of the effects of these closures have far-reaching economic and societal consequences in the Latino communities. The closure of elementary, middle and high schools has added to the negative impacts on these same communities.
The closure of colleges and universities, however, have had a greater impact on the Latinx students. These students have experienced social, mental, physical and economic costs. Digital learning, student debt, food insecurity may also have placed added stress on Latinx students.
The more disadvantaged a student is, the more severe is the impact of the closure on the student and their family. The pandemic with its subsequent closure of schools and loss of employment opportunities are common occurrences in the Latinx community. College work-study positions at the colleges and universities are very limited if not non-existent at this time. This means that those students who depended on their college work-study positions have experienced loss of income. This loss of income and with it the loss of being able to afford basic necessities make going to school that much more difficult.
Financial aid may cover tuition and some book purchases, but these funds are not enough to help the students who depended on these jobs to help defray the costs of their education or to help their families pay for necessary expenses. Many have contracted the virus and the lack of health insurance and other family supports have made it more difficult to concentrate on their school work.
We have all experienced low cash flow; however, for some of the Latinx students, the lack of funds to buy food, pay bills and help their families has tremendous consequences. It may result in course withdrawals and/or leaving the university or college campus forever without any plan
s to return. Their sense of helplessness is a major concern. Students need the college or university to offer support services for mental health concerns, academic support and basic needs.
Many of the undocumented student population and their families fear receiving the vaccine due to their immigration status. In her article, “Experiencing some hesitation and having questions is normal and each of us are in different phases of the decision-making process around the vaccination” published in the newsletter, La Voz De Indiana, Vivian Cintron, Ph.D. states that these data obtained from the clinical trials of the three vaccines reported that the average racial/ethnic composition of the participants demonstrated that Whites were more willing to be vaccinated than Blacks and Hispanics. Roughly twice the percentage of Hispanics took one of the three vaccines than did Blacks. The participation rate percentage for Whites was more than triple the rate for Hispanics and even more than that for Blacks. The situation is critical; although colleges and universities may offer vaccinations, information and other resources, many times that information does not reach the most vulnerable of our students and their families. The numbers do not look encouraging for Latinx students and the general Latino population. Financial Aid is not enough. We must do more.
About the authors:
Naida Simon, Ph.D. is Chair of the Student Affairs Committee of the Academic Senate and works in the Office of the Provost at Wayne State University.
Daisy Cordero, M.A. is a Financial Aid Officer in the Office of Student Financial Aid at Wayne State University.
 ”Michigan coronavirus cases confirmed in Oakland, Wayne counties”, The Detroit News, dated March 11, 2020.
 Vivian Cintron, “Experiencing some hesitation and having questions is normal and each of us are in different phases of the decision-making process around the vaccination”, La Voz De Indiana, Edition 525, March 10, 2021.