Emergency Fund Website Created to Help SMU Students Affected by Coronavirus

Editor’s note: Updated 7:10 p.m. for clarification

SMU Giving Day has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The university has instead created a student emergency fund website in order to help students facing unforeseen hardships and challenges due to the crisis.

“Although [Giving Day] is primarily an online initiative and a testament to Mustang support, we feel the acute needs of our community and the students in our care require immediate attention,” said an email sent to the SMU community on March 17.

The email was sent by Astria Smith, the Senior Executive Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations at SMU, who said that SMU was “actively working with students who have difficult personal circumstances such as barriers to returning home or online learning.”

According to the email, those who rely on work-study income will be paid throughout the transition to online learning. Counseling and spiritual services will also be available to students remotely.

SMU’s sudden move to online classes may impact students personally and financially in unforeseen ways. The university has set up the fund to help with the challenges many students may come up against in the near future.

“Even small donations could help buy groceries for a student who is experiencing off-campus job insecurity, or provide technology for a student who is facing barriers to online instruction at home,” Smith said.

Smith and her office encourage students to visit the Caring Community Connections website if they are experiencing “an acute financial hardship or other challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

She says this resource allows students to confidentially share more information about their circumstances. From there, trained staff in the Office of Student Support will provide a follow-up based on the student’s request for assistance.

The SMU Office of Development and External Affairs is also exploring more options for alumni to be able to support and encourage students during this time. For now, those who wish to donate to the fund can only do so online.

SMU Giving Day 2020 is postponed until further notice.