Supporting Students During COVID-19

When President Kathleen McCartney announced that students would be finishing their spring semester studies remotely beginning March 30 to help protect the community from the spread of COVID-19, Smithies did what they do best—rallied in support of others in need. Just 24 hours after the college set up a Student Emergency Aid Fund more than 300 alumnae, parents and friends of Smith had already donated $41,400 in support of students’ financial needs, such as moving, travel and technology expenses.

“This outpouring from our community has been swift, steady and sure,” said Vice President for Alumnae Relations Denise Wingate Materre ’74. “Our community is standing together and I am in awe.”

As of May 1, over $219,000 had been raised from more than 600 donors. The Office of the Dean of the College is managing funding requests and disbursements of the Student Emergency Aid Fund. Students seeking aid should make their requests directly to the dean’s office. The funds have supported expenses including domestic and international student travel, shipping costs for seniors moving home, technology such as laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots for those without and food and other essentials for Ada Comstock Scholars. 

Donors cited numerous reasons for contributing to the emergency aid fund, from making it possible for students to return home safely to ensuring that students had the tools they need to finish the semester off campus. “In this unsettling time, I just hope I can ease the anxiety a little bit for a student,” wrote one donor. Another acknowledged the financial insecurity some students face on a daily basis. “Thank you for taking care of students who need emergency aid,” the alumna said. “I know for a fact that a plane ticket home on such short notice would have been an incredible hardship for me when I was a student.”

Today, more than 65 percent of Smith students receive financial aid, and close to 20 percent are the first in their families to attend college. In her message to the campus on March 10, President McCartney stressed the need to support the most vulnerable in Smith’s community and expressed gratitude to those who have stepped forward to help. “Smith is a strong community with a vital mission: educating engaged global citizens and leaders to address society’s challenges,” she wrote. “In that spirit, we will continue to meet this challenge with resilience, creativity and abiding care for one another.