Washington State University Tri-Cities graduate student Aaron Pelly made the decision to donate his relief check to support those in the process of or who are hoping to renew their participation in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
When considering what to do with his relief funding, he saw an email that detailed resources for and ways to support DACA students amid this unprecedented time from the WSU Tri-Cities Dreamers Club. Pelly, who is earning his master’s degree in environmental studies, decided that his money would be best spent supporting students that may not have resources to help them continue their studies or maintain their legal status.
“I am in a position where I could do this – provide support for students that otherwise might not have the resources to be able to eat, pay rent and renew for the DACA program,” Pelly said. “My wife and I have a stable income. We wanted to use these funds to help support individuals who are really struggling. There are many who have lost their jobs and have nowhere else to turn. Many may not have the resources to afford renewing their DACA application amid the pandemic.”
With Pelly’s donation, a new fund was set up to support the application fees for DACA students, which cost an average of $500 per application.
Washington State University has made dramatic changes to its operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In-person classes across the system moved to online delivery. Vital student services, including academic advising, tutoring and career services, followed suit. Many employees made the adjustment to working from home, while others continue to report in-person in order to keep essential operations running smoothly.
In the course of responding to the ongoing public health emergency, lessons have been learned that will be relevant even after the return of normalcy.
“Though many classes are settling into a groove, we are still facing a number of technical challenges specific to students who for one reason or another lack access to broadband internet or to computers necessary for specific types of learning,” Matt Jockers, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said.
WSU has stepped up to this challenge by lending laptops to students and is working to make Wi-Fi available at Extension offices across the state.
The reluctance to reach out for help is a common tendency, but it’s an important one to unpack during a pandemic. How can we make that easier?
The first step is to understand why it’s so hard to reach out.
Requesting assistance is also uncomfortable because it’s “an admission that you’ve lost control of your situation,” says Craig Parks, a professor of social psychology and a vice provost at Washington State University. “We really need to feel, at all times, like we control our situations and can determine what happens to us.”
Plus, it creates a feeling of indebtedness — you helped me, so now I owe you — even if the helper doesn’t expect this, Parks says. “Socially, there’s still going to be a lot of pressure on you to reciprocate in kind.”
A glimpse into a day in the life of Mount St. Helens researcher John Bishop who has studied the landscape’s transformation from decimation to revitalization since 1990, 10 years after the 1980 eruption. Bishop, a biologist with Washington State University Vancouver, has dedicated the better half of his professional career to studying the slow-growers and creepy-crawlies of the pumice plain. This collection of photographs documents one research day with Bishop and his students on the pumice plain during July 2019.
Why, when their own welfare is so clearly at stake, do people share resources or risk exposure to the virus to help others?
It comes down to the term “prosocial.” According to Craig Parks, a professor of social psychology and a vice provost at Washington State University, “ ‘Prosocial’ means that when you have a choice between acting in your personal best interests or acting in the best interest of the collective, that you opt for the latter.”
While looking out only for ourselves is sometimes extremely important, we have evolved to be concerned with the greater good. “Humans are naturally prosocial,” says Parks. “They had to be in order to survive.”
Imagine being a prehistoric man, hunting woolly mammoth. Alone, you might manage to kill the beast, but it would be difficult to protect the carcass from other predators. Form a multi-person hunting party, though, and “you’re not going to get nearly as much meat as if you hunted by yourself, but you’ve got a much greater chance of success and a much greater chance of living to see another day,” Parks says.