Better Communication Resolves Eviction Issue

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UC Berkeley student parents are no longer facing eviction notices due to delayed financial aid allocations thanks to improved communications between the Financial Aid Office and Cal Housing.

Last semester, student parents who were in need of financial aid - which helps pay for things such as utility bills and rent - were being issued eviction notices by the campus despite the fact that the financial aid office was failing to allocate aid to them in a timely manner. Cheryl Resh, director of financial aid, said at the time that the record-number of aid applications and glitches in the newly implemented financial aid computer system were causing the delay.

After The Daily Californian published an article on Nov. 12 about the eviction notices, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau met with Cal Housing officials and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry LeGrande to discuss why the notices were being unfairly issued and how to resolve the problem.

Now, according to Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs for Residential and Student Service Programs LeNorman Strong, while eviction notices will be served to those students who are not awaiting aid to pay for rent, a plan has been put in place so that students with pending financial aid awards will not receive eviction notices.

"Representatives of the Financial Aid Office, Student Parent Programs and Services, and Cal Housing met in November and developed a communication plan regarding this concern," he said in an e-mail.

Strong said representatives of the Financial Aid Office and Cal Housing are working individually with students with financial aid issues and with delinquent rent. Currently, he has appointed two individuals from Residential and Student Service Programs to be members of this group and who will facilitate getting the group together on an ongoing basis.

For senior Gina Cariveau, the improvement in communication was key in helping her and her two children when they received an eviction notice in October 2010 while she was reliant on financial aid to help her pay her rent for her apartment in University Village in Albany.

"I got a call the day after the (Nov. 12 Daily Cal article) came out from financial aid saying that they were going to take care of absolutely everything," she said. "It's not about blaming one person for this problem. It was a lack of communication between the departments."

Alice Jordan, coordinator of student parent programs and services at the Transfer, Re-entry, and Student Parent Center, said she was pleased to see the campus take proactive steps to help the students who she felt had been wrongly issued eviction notices.

Jordan, who sits in on many of the meetings between the campus offices to provide input on how to best move forward with making sure student parents do not face the same issues in the future, said while it's too early in the semester to tell what will happen as financial aid is being allocated and whether any communication issues are properly addressed, she said she felt there is already a greater effort between the Cal Housing and Financial Aid offices to try to resolve the problems students faced last semester.

"I think we all want the same thing ... for students to receive their aid and pay their rent and not go through all the anxiety and stress," she said. "This wasn't about a student being negligent. This was an issue of communication between everyone."


Katie Nelson is the lead academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

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