"We happy, We Dependent Few" by Jeffrey Aviña
The current administration passed the second bill to be born out of the Coronavirus pandemic last week. It was a sigh of relief too many Americans that will benefit from the one-time payment of $1,200 that make under $75,000 a year. While it is one of the biggest stimulus bills ever passed in Congress, experts are unsure as to whether or not the two trillion dollars will be sufficient in combating the spread of the virus. While the economy is suffering, the next generation of Americans was completely excluded from the Bill.
College Students all over the country are reeling from the effects of Coronavirus on their lives; from switching to an online format to losing housing due to dorm closures and being displaced, losing campus jobs and their only source of income, among all of the other challenges that living life in a pandemic presents. Students around the country are hurting and this bill does nothing to help. The bill excludes dependants from receiving any money if they are over the age of 18, which is a large majority of college students.
One Sonoma State student that I spoke with expressed a lot of concern over dependants' exclusion from the bill and the realities of their new life under quarantine. "These actions affect people like me, who don't have time in the morning to fight for toilet paper and ramen. I also cant afford to get the stuff that is left on the shelves because it is either too expensive or not a necessity...when I saw the empty shelves I started to feel scared but at least I got a grip on reality strong enough to not make me panic." Students who choose to live off-campus are especially hurt by this bill. Colleges that have been closing have been offering reimbursements on housing and parking passes but off-campus students reap none of these benefits since they opted to live elsewhere. Unless you are in a state that has put a hold on rent payments, then you still have to pay your landlord for the month. So now you still owe your landlord, have no source of income, and the government is saying to ask your parents for help, you aren't their problem.
But what about the students who are going home to a place that isn't exactly conducive for a good quarantine experience? Another Sonoma student who went home for the semester is worried about how they might function at home. "I have to provide for my self [at school]. My parents only provide housing when I come home and I'm pretty I'm going to have to pay rent."
While the complaints and whims of Zoomers (we have to think of a better name) isn't the first thing on the minds of Americans, it isn't something that the current administration can sweep under the rug along with all the other Americans that won't see any aide from this bill. Is this the largest stimulus bill in American history? Yes. Will it help thousands of Americans help meet payments for their expenses? Partly. Will this bill help America out of this crisis? No. Anything short of a universal basic income for all Americans for the duration of this pandemic will stop the spread of this virus and curve the effects of a recession.
We know what is right, for once, during a life-threatening pandemic, can we do the right thing?