In an effort to make sure college students can do their school work virtually during the COVID-19 crisis, one elected official stepped up to the plate.
On April 13, Assemblyman Victor Pichardo announced a grant of $125,000 for Bronx Community College (BCC) to purchase approximately 600 HP Chromebooks for students to use for distance learning.
“During this time of uncertainty, the implementation of remote learning left many underserved students without the ability to afford the proper technology to access the virtual classrooms, causing them to fall behind their peers,” Pichardo said. “This is unacceptable. Bronx Community College is an anchor for my community, and I want to thank President Isekenegbe, the administration, staff and faculty for ensuring that their students have the adequate resources needed to continue their education.”
According to a spokesman for BCC, the staff at the school has identified Chromebooks and iPads as the model for distribution, which were selected for cost, reliability, functionality and how well they integrated with its Blackboard online learning and other CUNY initiatives.
As of today, it has shipped more than 626 devices and is working daily to continue to identify and supply those who need laptops.
BCC President Thomas Isekenegbe expressed gratitude to Pichardo.
“I cannot express my gratitude deeply enough to Assemblymember Pichardo for this funding,” Isekenegbe said. “Victor has always been a true partner in government for Bronx Community College. This funding will allow BCC to purchase the HP Chromebooks for our students to use during this crisis.”
The assemblyman told the Bronx Times that just because someone goes to college it doesn’t mean they have a laptop. Many use financial aid or take out loans and rely on computers at their school.
While most people have smartphones, it’s not the same as having a laptop, he explained.
“Everybody takes technology for granted,” Pichardo said.
According to Pichardo, the students without devices have been trying to keep up with their course load. However, not only is sharing a computer with a friend or family member a challenge, it also isn’t practicing social distancing.
Students at BCC aren’t just young adults, some are moms and dads. The assemblyman stressed he really just wants to help the less fortunate in their time of need.
He said there is often a “digital divide” between colleges and its students. Meaning those that attend the school can’t afford the needed technology to do the work for it.
“People need to understand it’s not just having the physical hardware, it’s having the software and access,” the assemblyman said. “It’s the reality that a lot of students have to deal with.”