SAMRU support for financially struggling students
By Julie Patton, News Editor
It’s no secret that today’s students are struggling. Between the housing crisis, cost of groceries, and increasing tuition, students are barely making ends meet.
This was evident in the fight to find affordable housing as Mount Royal University’s (MRU) Residences had to waitlist students for the first time in 10 years. Students who typically live off campus were opting to live in residence as it provided a cheaper alternative to renting elsewhere in the city.
However, housing isn’t the only crisis students are facing as groceries, gas, and even tuition has inflated. For the 2023-24 academic year, MRU’s domestic tuition increased by 5.5 per cent and international tuition increased by five per cent.
With the weight of so many costs on students’ shoulders, some may be struggling to stay afloat. Thankfully for students, there are numerous supports at campus to help them make it through these unprecedented times.
The Students Association of MRU (SAMRU) has many supports to help students make it through the school year. Lisa Antichow, support services manager at SAMRU, says the purpose of the student’s association is to help students succeed and they do that through a number of ways.
For emergency situations, SAMRU has an emergency student loan program. Students can get up to $300 in an interest free loan to help them get by in times of crisis. Relatively easy to access, students just need to set up a meeting with staff in the Peer Support Centre (Z210) and explain what the current circumstance is as to why they need the loan.
“The meeting might take 15 minutes, it could take a half hour, and then in most cases, things can get approved relatively easily,” Antichow says.
In addition to this, they also have bursaries that they give away to students every year. Although it’s a smaller program, it’s worth looking into for students who need some extra support.
Free food for students
Not only does SAMRU help students financially, but they also have a few food support programs. Antichow says the most popular is the free breakfast program.
On weekdays from 8:45am to 11 A.M, students can stop by the Peer Support Centre for free breakfast items like toast, fruit, yogurt, coffee, and tea. Open to all, Antichow encourages students to take advantage of the program, so they don’t miss the most important meal of the day.
SAMRU also has free bread and buns to take in the Peer Support Centre. Thanks to COBS Bread, every Tuesday they get a delivery of the baked goods.
Additionally, there is SAMRU’s main care cupboard which is a campus food bank. Students can fill out an intake form online and the student’s association will create a food package for them. These packages will give them food for the next two to three days. If needed, SAMRU can also make referrals to the Calgary Food Bank for students.
Lastly, SAMRU has also placed satellite pantries around campus labelled as the ‘Care Cupboards’ for students to access. With five locations around campus, the pantries provide snacks and other goods to students. The student’s association restocks the pantries twice a week.
“We do ask though, that students just take with moderation,” Antichow says. “Don’t take the whole bin of stuff, right? Just take what you need and leave the rest for other people.”
Antichow says that intrinsically, she wants to help students. However, as an organization it is their duty.
“That’s why we exist, we are here to help support students through their university experience. And if someone hasn’t eaten for two days, how can they succeed in what they’re doing at school?”
She says the free breakfast program has been running for over 10 years and remains one of the more popular features at SAMRU. Additionally, the Care Cupboards throughout campus are almost always empty when they’re restocked.
Although not every student takes advantage of the support SAMRU offers, Antichow is happy to know that some students are utilizing the programs and are better off because of it.