New Pandemic Fund Helps WMU Students & Employees | WMUK

New Pandemic Fund Helps WMU Students & Employees

Mar 27, 2020

The bridge over the Valley Ponds on WMU's main campus at sunrise
Credit Andy Robins / WMUK

A new fund has been set up to help students and employees at Western Michigan University who are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The independent WMU Solidarity Fund went online Thursday, March 26. Assistant professor of public affairs and administration Vickie Edwards is one of the faculty members, staff, and students who started it.

"There are a lot of students and folks who were not making a lot of money to begin with that suddenly find themselves unable to pay rent. They're having additional costs. Maybe they were working in a a restaurant as a second job; that's very typical among students. And so, we realized that we have to do something."

Edwards says student employees at WMU aren't the only people on campus being financially affected by the outbreak She says many staff members have had their work hours reduced or eliminated.

So far, Edwards says the response to the WMU Solidarity Fund has been gratifying, "As of 8:45 this morning, we've raised $4,655. We've received about seven requests for aid totalling $3,175."

Edwards says she hopes support will come from people beyond Western's campuses.

"I can't imagine what the City of Kalamazoo would look like without Western Michigan University. It's just such an integral part of our culture and our economy here that it really is important that all of us come together to support the people who need help right now."

Edwards says support for students and staff will need to continue for some time.

"We have the option of making recurring monthly donations on our website. We encourage you to do that come payday because this something that' not going to be resolved in the next few weeks or months. And we want to make sure that we've a strong and vibrant campus community ready to come back in the fall."

The university has increased leave time for affected full-time employees. It can be used to offset lost income because of reduced work hours.

The Kalamazoo Community Foundation has also set up a Community Urgent Relief Fund to help families in the area who have been hurt financially by the pandemic.