Durham College Students Inc. sets up emergency fund to relieve some stress

Shania Weimann demonstrates her reliance on technology to finish the semester.

Durham College has received $250,000 in emergency funds from Durham College (DC) Student Inc. (DCSI) to support students experiencing financial struggles due to COVID-19.

The money has come from the Emergency Student Support Fund (ESSF). Rocha says she is unsure if this money is from fundraising.

“We’re looking at the immediate needs of students and basically to get them finished off their school years,” said DC’s Director of Financial Aid and Student Awareness, Chris Rocha. “Maybe it’s having to get set up with internet or maybe it’s having to relocate out of residence.”

Rocha says some students may be frustrated with the specifics of the grant because they misunderstand what it’s for.

She said it is not to substitute the working wage they may have lost over the summer and that the federal government has implemented bursaries for those specific needs. The bursary amount can range from $70 to $250, Rocha explains it is dependent on need.

“Maybe you have technology [needed] to complete your school year. A lot of our students are in programs that are laptop programs that already have technology,” said Rocha.

The Canadian government recently announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), a $9-billion investment to further support students and recently-graduated students.

According to the government, eligible students would receive $1,250 a month and students with disabilities or depends would receive $1,750 a month.

Rocha said they have had 646 students who began their semester in September apply for the emergency fund. She said they are still reviewing student applications who began their semester in the winter.

One Durham College student, Shania Weimann, said the emergency fund is crucial for her because she is no longer working and doesn’t have the funds to support her education.

“I was struggling to finish my course due to not having resources that I would be able to obtain at campus, such as the photocopiers for drafting assignments and programs used in my Architectural Technology course,” said Weimann.

Both domestic and international students are able to apply for the emergency fund. Rocha says once the funds have been exhausted, they will be looking into all possible ways to continue to support the students.

For Weimann, support from the college is bringing students together.

“I personally have reached out to others that I have never talked to before within Durham College that even just needed help applying for the bursary,” said Weimann. “And that has brought us closer as a Durham College community, we have to stay DC strong.”