Title IX Coordinator Adam McGowan met with faculty members to talk about the new Pregnant and Parenting Student accommodation policy. The Accommodations policy was created in August of 2017 to authorize pregnant and parenting students the opportunity to have extended deadlines, restroom breaks, larger desks and no tuition penalties because of leave of absence.
The meeting was held on March 8 by McGowan for students who are pregnant to know they do not have to give up their education.
“We [Title IX] want to be more consistent so we finally put it into policy and students should know they don’t have to give up being a student because they are a parent,” McGowan said.
One of the accommodations discussed was pregnant students must be treated as equal to the other students. Professors and faculty cannot treat students poorly because they are pregnant.
Another accommodation discussed was when students find out they are pregnant the students are encouraged to tell their advisers, faculty members and Title IX so it is easier to make the accommodations asked for whether it be more bathroom breaks, a bigger desk, an extension on an assignment or a leave of absence rather than trying to get it forgiven after it has happened.
After telling Title IX, students can help set up a plan if they decide to stay in the course for the time being. Once they have told Title IX about their pregnancy, the student has three choices: they can choose to stay in the course, ask for a leave of absence or they can drop the course.
If a pregnant student informs a professor of his/her pregnancy the faculty member cannot force the student to drop the class. However, if the student has not identified as being pregnant and a faculty member suspects a possible pregnancy, the faculty member can issue a general warning with possible classroom hazards.
If or when a student chooses to stay in the course they can then ask Title IX for accommodations that can then be set with the professor. The student can ask for extended deadlines, restroom breaks or larger desks.
Vice President of Student Affairs Shana Meyer said the accommodations are making schooling easier for the students that are pregnant.
“[The changes] give a peace of mind when their lives and circumstances are changing this is an opportunity for them to understand at least I can finish school or continue on,” Meyer said.
While these have been in previous policies the lactation spaces are in the following private locations:
- The second floor of Looney Complex
- The third floor of Hearnes
- The Health Center
- The Department of Philosophy and Religion
These accommodations only focus on the pregnancy and not when the students already have kids.
Nikki Groom is a mother and is currently pregnant. Groom took the semester off because of difficulties with school, pregnancy and personal life.
When Groom started school, her kids were not in school yet so she had to find a babysitter for when she was at school and work. Western also made it difficult for the parents who have sick children as the school does not allow for parents to miss school days because of a sick kid, according to Groom.
Children’s schools will not allow sick kids to come to school and babysitters will not watch sick kids, which is a main problem for Groom.
“The school is really great about the pregnancy part, just not so much the kids part,” Groom said.
Despite the struggles, there were some good times.
“They do some fun nights for kids. The school had a German club and one time they had a Disney karaoke night. I brought my kids to that and they loved it,” Groom said.