Thanks to a $25,000 grant from AccessLex and gifts from faculty, staff, and alumni totaling $88,000, UC Hastings Law students in financial need can take advantage of a new Student Emergency Fund. The fund provides individual grants of up to $750 per academic year for students facing emergency needs, including pandemic-related medical costs and unforeseen expenses for shelter, emergency travel, technology, or other necessities required to continue their education.
“During this health crisis—and these unprecedented times—many of our students’ lives have been deeply impacted. Not only are they experiencing uncertainty about their future and the job market, but they are also incurring unexpected costs,” said Grace Hum, Assistant Dean of Students. “Our new UC Hastings Student Emergency Fund will alleviate some of these unforeseen financial burdens.”
The call for contributions from faculty and staff went out on April 3. One anonymous faculty member immediately contributed $10,000. Another faculty member committed up to $10,000 in matching funds to challenge faculty and staff to join the relief campaign. Their pledge was quickly matched. “And an anonymous friend to Hastings who is deeply committed to our students’ success pledged more than $25,000,” Hum said.
“While we are inviting our alumni community to support this effort, we are also inviting all of you to give because we know how much you care about our students,” Eric Dumbleton, Chief Development Officer, wrote in a letter to faculty and staff. “We understand that everyone’s situation is unique and that personal circumstances vary. However, if you are able to support this fund, at any level, we—and especially our students—would be incredibly grateful.”
3L Myell Mergaert, president of ASUCH (Associated Students of UC Hastings) called the response “beautiful” and said, “This is such a compassionate demonstration of faith in us.”
“It’s incredibly generous of faculty, staff, and alumni to contribute to students in this way,” said 2L Madison Miller, incoming ASUCH president. “These extraordinary measures are real demonstrations of their belief in the potential of UC Hastings students.”
Every member of the college’s senior leadership Key Issues team has contributed. Other gifts, large and small, have flooded in from faculty, staff, and alumni. By close of business April 8, more than $88,000 in gifts and pledges had been raised from the UC Hastings community.
Chancellor and Dean David Faigman reached out to alumni to solicit their contributions, both for the Student Emergency Fund and the Dean’s Discretionary Account. Faigman said the latter would be used to supplement the Student Emergency Fund, as well as support longer-range relief efforts brought on by the health and financial crises.
Seed funding for the student relief fund comes from the nonprofit AccessLex Institute. AccessLex established a $5 million Law Student Emergency Relief Fund, making $25,000 available to each nonprofit and state-affiliated ABA-accredited law school in the nation. “Beyond the concerns around adapting to online learning, completion of hands-on legal clinics, and the potential for delays in the bar exam, this crisis has exacerbated financial pressures on law students—in many cases, to a level that can jeopardize the continuation of their studies,” AccessLex said in a press release announcing the funding.
Other sources of aid will also available to UC Hastings students. The college has been allocated $276,618 through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which provides $2 trillion in pandemic relief. According to the Department of Education, colleges and universities can use the fund to cover costs associated with the change to online education as long as at least 50% of the funding goes to emergency financial aid grants to students.
“Although we need to isolate ourselves physically, none of us is alone,” Faigman wrote in his letter to alumni. “Family, friends and our respective communities are there. UC Hastings is there. We will emerge from this tunnel and be stronger—and prouder—for the strength, fortitude and charity that we brought to these times.”