GUEST POST: Time for a pop quiz: Do you know if your school has diaper changing stations in their bathrooms? Is there maternity parking or lactation rooms? What are the classroom policies regarding excused absences for pregnant and parenting students? Is there a babysitting program at your school?
These are only a few questions pregnant and parenting students are seeking answers to every semester, and your Students for Life of America (SFLA) group can help provide an answer. SFLA’s initiative Standing With You will be hosting a Change Your Campus for LIFE Webinar on Tuesday, February 21 at 8:00 pm EST for you to learn more about how to make these policy changes and Student Government Association (SGA) resolutions on campus. There will be practical steps and student success stories given to guide you.
One success story that was accomplished by SFLA students this past month happened at Benedictine College, a small school in Kansas.
Student mothers at Benedictine College have yet another supportive measure in place now that the school has established their first maternity parking space. As the campus sits on a giant hill, the walk to and from classes can be extremely difficult if you are pregnant or injured. There have always been plenty of designated parking spaces for disabled students, but there never has been a maternity parking space for pregnant women on campus — until now!
When the 2022 Fall Semester started, the SFLA group on campus called Ravens Respect Life (RRL) knew they wanted to start making changes for pregnant and parenting students. A change not only through fundraisers and baby item drives but also by advocating for policies and accommodations on campus to support parents in finishing school. They started the Project Zelie initiative, and RRL member Kathryn explained that the goal is “to make our campus more life-affirming by directly supporting parents and their children.”
Thankfully, the school was very supportive of the maternity parking sign, allowing them to finish it within the semester. Kathryn told SFLA how the response on campus was “extremely positive” and that continued even off campus — the measure was also affirmed on their group’s Instagram account (@benedictine.rrl) by students attending other schools.
One commenter said, “This is fantastic!!! I had to jump through so many hoops and argue with a lot of people to get a temporary handicap permit, so I wasn’t having to trek across campus in 90 degree weather while 9 months pregnant my last semester.”
While the group has received positive feedback and fellow students think it is a practical addition to campus, they have also been questioned on their decision and have learned to stand their ground. When the RRL President Joe was questioned about it not being used every day, he replied, “It’s just like the handicap parking spots we have right next to the spot — they’re not frequently used, but we’re more than willing to mark it off because when they are needed, it’s more than worth it! We’re willing to walk one parking spot farther every day for the one day a mother will need that spot.”
The group’s persistence and willingness to combat adversity is a beautiful portrayal of how they stand with women — through pregnancy and beyond. Overall, this is their first phase of advocating and implementing change on campus for pregnant and parenting students. RRL have more initiatives to come.
This fantastic group will be joining us at the Change Your Campus for LIFE Webinar on Tuesday, February 21at 8:00 pm EST to learn more about how to make these policy changes and SGA resolutions on campus. We invite you to tune in and start making the change on your campus.
Click HERE to learn more!