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basic Needs Coalition


The Basic Needs Coalition is a group led by Cornell University students that are advocating for and demanding that Cornell University legitimately meets the basic needs of students and staff. This Coalition formed out of the real and urgent need as students saw peers struggling to pay for food, housing, health care, and other essential needs. In the past year, the Coalition has accomplished the following:

  • Held 6 workshops; helped 313 students with financial assistance 




The students of the Basic Needs Coalition are now focused on opening a Basic Needs Center to aid students who face similar struggles and provide a physical space where adequate support and resources can be allocated to meet the needs all students at Cornell University, especially first-generation, low-income students.

Campus Survey on Basic Needs

This past summer, numerous student leaders came together to conduct a Basic Needs Survey (n=564). The survey consisted of around 72% undergraduate students, 9% graduate students, 18% alumni, and 2% faculty. Of the respondents, 54% identified as first-generation and/or low-income. From this survey, it was found that students overwhelmingly felt that their basic needs are not met by the university. Particularly, students are unaware of financial resources/assistance and the current resources to address food insecurity are either unknown or inadequate. To learn more about the survey results, view the survey results presentation.

The Coalition's Overarching Demands

The administration at Cornell University ensures equitable access to food, housing, health insurance, employment, health, wellness, financial literacy, and all other basic needs resources for all Cornell University students and staff by:


  1. Overhauling financial aid to accurately reflect the high cost of living in Ithaca by expanding aid for housing, food, transportation, health insurance to meet student needs. 

  2. Establishing a centrally located, physical Basic Needs Center staffed with student navigators trained to connect individuals to available basic needs resources

  3. Centralizing basic needs resources on campus to make them visible to community members

  4. Collaborating with existing campus stakeholders to ensure all departments are aware of these centralized resources

  5. Increasing student accessibility by expanding eligibility (e.g., housing, food, transportation) for emergency grants, access funds, and the creation of a Basic Needs Fund

  6. Hiring basic needs support staff to assist in the work to make basic needs resources more accessible and accomplish the goals outlined by the Basic Needs Coalition 

  7. Creating a legal aid services program for all Cornell students (e.g., housing, DACA and immigration, workers rights)

  8. Destigmatizing basic needs at the university by actively advertising and providing food, housing, health insurance, mental health, and employment resources 

Visit this page for the full list of demands of the Basic Needs Initiative.

Call To Action, Get Involved!

  • Attend Basic Needs Coalition Meetings: Meeting are held weekly on Thursdays at 8 PM in Goldwin Smith Room 236. Join through this Zoom link if you are unable to join in person.​

  • Join the Basic Needs Group Chat: Join the primary group chat used to share updates, coordinate meeting times and discuss next steps.​

  • Join one of the Project Teams: You can join one of the project teams by attending our weekly coalition meetings. 

    • PR Team: Develop website to centralize resources on campus, sort through our survey data responses and create digestible infographics highlighting main points, run basic needs social media, outreach to different student organizations and departments on campus, creating flyers. In general, be in charge of outreach and communication.

    • Workshop Team: Coordinate basic needs workshops such as workshops on food security resources (SNAP), health insurance options (Medicaid), housing rights, finding employment on campus, financial aid grants, or any other basic need related workshop. 

    • Student Assembly & Admin Collaboration: Attend and strategize for all meetings with administrations, work with Student Assembly to pass resolutions, create long term institutional structure & support for basic needs. 


For more​ information and to address any questions or inquiries , please contact or

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