In order to slow the spread of the dreaded coronavirus, Benedict College, a small HBCU in Columbia, South Carolina, closed its doors. With a student population of just over 2,000, there were still hundreds of students who didn’t have the funds to pack up and go home. According to CBS News, due to the plight of the cash-strapped students, President Roslyn Artis and her team assisted with helping more than 100 domestic and international students travel safely back home.
“The ability of our students to simply purchase a plane ticket and go home, or for a parent to send for their children or leave work and come get them on short notice was not something that was realistic for our particular population,” Artis told CBS News.
“When [Artis] informed the board about the challenge of evacuating the campus, she did not ask her board members for financial assistance, but we heard her pain,” said Trustee Doris Johnson, whose husband’s law firm also donated money to aid the students. “It was just a natural response that we all wanted to assist in any way that we could.”
According to the Benedict administrators, the majority of their students, 74%, are the first person in their family to attend college, and 84% are Pell Grant-dependent, meaning they would not have had any means to be able to afford to attend the college.
The school’s board helped raise nearly $25,000 in just several days. With the collected funds, the school used it to purchase flights, bus tickets, and even luggage for the students. They used Artis’ office as a central location to take care of business regarding getting the students back to their homes. Other dedicated people such as dorm directors and resident assistants made sure students made it on time to the shuttle bus that would take them to the airport or bus station. Even staff members helped drive students to airports and bus stops in vans some even used their own personal cars. University personnel chipped in to help escort students who had early flights to the bus shuttle from their dormitories, so they wouldn’t have to walk alone on campus before the sun came up.