This Tuesday marked the grand opening of The Hub, a new facility providing UC San Diego students with basic needs resources that target issues such as food security and housing for low-income students. A mixed crowd of UCSD staff, students, and a coalition of non-profit organization representatives welcomed the inauguration. Several UCSD staff and event organizers spoke on the growing challenges college students face and The Hub’s potential for human development.
The third of its kind in the UC system, UCSD officialized its implementation of The Hub — a space that can “provide resource referrals for registered UC San Diego students from a collective of on-campus program collaborations and off-campus program partnerships in the greater San Diego area.”
Located at the Original Student Center, the front courtyard was filled with UCSD students, a handful of staff, and community organizers including the San Diego Food Bank, CalFresh, and Hunger Coalition — all awaiting the speeches that would precede the anticipated ribbon-cutting.
Patty Mahaffey, assistant vice chancellor of Student Life, opened with critical statistics. According to a comprehensive report that collected data from all 10 UC campuses, up until 2017 at least 23 percent of students suffer or have suffered from problems relating to food and housing insecurity. Mahaffey welcomed a panel of speakers, who each contributed unique insights on the progress that The Hub represents.
Among the list of guest speakers was: Elizabeth Simmons, executive vice chancellor, formerly from Michigan State University where she helped found the first food pantry on a college campus; Lesly Figueroa, president of A.S. Council and one of the first volunteers at the Triton Food Pantry since its inception three years ago; Hayley Waddell, Ph.D. student researcher, co-chair of the Basic Needs Committee, and founder of the Food Pantry Initiative; and Alicia Magallanes, Basic Needs Coordinator and leader of The Hub initiative.
Most notably, Magallanes, who has a background in social work, spoke passionately about the spectrum of dilemmas The Hub addresses.
“The Hub serves as a centralized access point for student concerns,” she told The Guardian. “They can seek out resources that address challenges such as food security, housing stability, and financial wellness.”
The Hub’s carefully designed layout received noticeable recognition from all who walked in for a piece of cake and some hot beverages.
With a faint musky, wooden smell, and decor resembling that of a cozy living room, The Hub’s atmosphere is intended to invite even the most vulnerable of students to seek guidance on everyday struggles. Providing a variety of healthy amenities such as brown rice, lentils, chai tea, and pumpkin soup, the facility aims to offers a comprehensive network where students can find refuge.
Figueroa raised attention to how The Hub sets an institutional framework to handle many of the unconventional circumstances students encounter.
“There is no cookie-cutter problem, and every student faces unique challenges that require a multifaceted approach,” she told the Guardian. “The Hub functions as a one-stop shop where they can come to find answers.”
Several students from the diverse backgrounds attended the opening, actively engaging in discussion on the promise of the new space.
“I’m really glad that UCSD is opening this center where all of the students’ basic needs can be met in a centrally located place.” Daron Woods, firstyear transfer from Roger Revelle College, international relations and political science major, and A.S. transfer senator told the Guardian. “This is definitely a boost for the student community, especially transfer students like myself.”
The Hub offers drop-in counseling sessions with specialized advisers throughout the week and will be hosting several informative workshops on various educational opportunities and social programs for student well-being in the near future.
Photo by Lauren Holt