Mothers on campus make up a minority group within the nontraditional student community, which is often assumed to be transient, leaving their maternal needs at home with their young families.
The university, albeit innocently, has been acting without consideration toward this group for decades.
With UCA’s institution-wide diversity committee, initiated in 2013, the campus has brought forth progressive action from the increase of LBGT communities to the most recent approval of the Lactation Stations, which will be taking off this spring with the full support of the Faculty, Staff and Student Government Senates.
On Feb. 2, SGA became the last of the three bodies to agree to fiscally support the Lactation Station Committee’s charge to install five breast-feeding and lactation suites across campus, allocating $2,000 toward the cause.
The stations will provide breast-feeding mothers places to go on campus to “express their milk,” as the SGA resolution states.
The staff and faculty senates contributed $7,500—enough for four of the stations.
The suites will each cost between $1,500 and $2,000.
This is a small price to pay to guarantee the comfort and discretion needed by mothers on campus.
The lactation suites will feature comfortable chairs and sanitary supplies, providing healthier and safer environments than the small bathroom stalls or the public front seats of cars in the parking lot that nursing mothers have had to resort to until this point.
Women should not have to sacrifice their motherhood to obtain an education.
Going to college while nursing a child is difficult and more complicated than most of the students on SGA can truly empathize with, however, SGA voted to help accommodate these mothers on campus and help relieve some of the stress that having a child in college can generate.
This project primarily helps non-traditional students, whose needs can often go unnoticed by SGA, faculty and executive staff.
The SGA bill’s passage and the funding allocation show that UCA is open to addressing nontraditional students’ needs when considering what issues deserve funding.
Mothers should be able to have a safe, private place on campus to breast-feed or pump without the fear of intrusion or ridicule.
While some security measures might be needed to ensure the success of these stations, these issues are worth finding a solution for to achieve the end result.
Balancing school and motherhood can be a daunting task, a task made even more daunting with the lack of simple conveniences.
College students rarely consider the need to lactate, much less are aware of the current lack of accommodations for mothers on campus.
Because the group that needs these stations is so small, it is easy to see why the problem has been brushed under the rug for so long.
By installing the stations, UCA will also ensure that it complies with an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act that the Affordable Care Act enacted in 2010.
It’s refreshing to see the positive response to an overlooked need on campus.