Tuesday, December 12, 2006

An Article From Tasi

This article was written by my friend Tasi, who shares my dreams of a family-friendly campus. She has a very personal interest in this issue, being a student mother; so, please hear what she has to say.

To new SDSU president: What will you do about the lack of child care?
On a Lark
Tasiyagnunpa Livermont
Issue date: 10/4/06 Section: Opinion & Editorial
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Media Credit: Ty Carlson
Tasiyagnunpa Livermont, On a Lark
[Click to enlarge]

Imagine a model campus where an annex of the student union would house a complete daycare and student family center. Students with families would have access to a daycare facility completely subsidized by the campus students' association or other campus funding. The facility itself would be run by budding-child care experts and their professors.

Close to the nursery area, small offices would provide privacy for student moms who want to breast-feed their children between classes.

The student family center would offer tuition-free classes on home organization, child development, child-rearing techniques, pregnancy classes and family finances as well as resources for single-parent families.

This campus would also feature updated family student housing apartment complexes complete with fenced-in yards and playgrounds. Each apartment would have a washer and dryer built in and come in multi-bedroom options. Each floor would have an elderly parenting mentor as a resident assistant who themselves successfully raised children while attending and completing a higher education.

Each student-parent would have access to a database of student babysitters who would be paid by work-study or other funding to allow for more flexible daycare when parents need to study.

This, however, is not reality, especially at South Dakota State University, which does not even have a campus daycare.

SDSU does have a pre-school program, which we, as parents, pay for out-of-pocket. SDSU also has a few caring professors who understand when an assignment is late because a child was sick.

Hats-off and a huge thank-you to all SDSU employees who try to explain financial aid or graduation requirements over the phone to students who have children screaming in the background.

But why is it that the rest of academia is still so hostile to family? Is it because women earning a higher education is still so new that the non-academic portions of our campuses are rotting in antiquity?

I believe society still expects us to throw our uteruses out the window and become surrogate men in order to walk through the elite halls of education.

Institutions of higher learning should be the most supportive segment of society to parents. College students are the world's most immediate future, but our children are the future as well. Women, and men, must demand better recognition of tomorrow's leaders and realize that much of these children's lives are just as centered on college campuses as any college student.

My oldest son took naps in the Collegian office a few times when he was younger and I was Web editor. I bought him pizza at Jack's Place and juice for his sippy cup out of SDSU vending machines. Not much has changed except the addition of my youngest son, who ate yogurt and Kashi cereal purchased on-campus, while I worked the Jacks For Life booth.

Pursuing an education and a family should not be societal polar opposites. Feminism still has a long way to go.

For now, I would like to see a plan from our new president addressing these concerns.

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