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Could Penn State’s directory of student assistance programs lead to new URL on campus cards?

The comprehensive list details dozens of options for students facing food insecurity, housing pressures, and more

CampusIDNews Staff   ||   May 03, 2024  ||   

Penn State’s student run news source, the Daily Collegian, published an in-depth list of student resources that could serve as a model for a campus directory of services – from mental health to food insecurity and more.

As card program and auxiliary service professionals, we talk regularly about adding mental health contact information to our student IDs. Static phone numbers and even the service providers that operate them, however, can change, leading to outdated information.

This Penn State list is a reminder that a readily-available online directory should be a part of any efforts to help students struggling with issues on campus. Mental health, food insecurity, and financial pressures each negatively impact a student’s ability to succeed, and they are often intertwined.

A phone number on the campus card may be the quickest route to deliver emergency services such as suicide prevention line numbers, but a printed URL linking to a master services directory should also be considered.

The directory is a deliverable from a larger project entitled Pockets empty, dreams full — at Penn State.

Though the project, the Daily Collegian and other student journalists explored how “financial insecurity can reshape the Happy Valley experience in profound ways.”

Rather than listing a single food pantry or other option, the lists are comprehensive. For food assistance, ten separate options are identified to help students in need.

But it doesn’t stop at food insecurity.

There are seven services available to Penn State students in need of housing assistance, five services offering transportation assistance, and eight options for other financial assistance offerings. A wide range of miscellaneous services are also highlighted such as a source for students needing to borrow professional attire for job interviews, another offering free legal and notary services, and more.

Unlike a static phone number printed on an ID card, an online directory can be updated at any point as services change or new offerings are added.

A phone number may be the quickest – and thus the ideal – route to deliver emergency services such as suicide prevention line numbers, but a printed URL linking to a master services directory should also be considered.

That single additional line of data on the back of a student ID card, could reenforce with students that the institution cares about them as individuals. And crucially, it would be an always at hand reminder that assistance is often just a click away.

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