Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act
U.S. House Briefing, February 15, 2006 - Susan B. Anthony's Birthday
Remarks of Sally A. Winn
In April of 1992 I was a junior in college at Indiana University. I had been married for three months when I found out that I was pregnant. This was not a planned situation and my husband and I had no intention of having children for many years, if ever.
When I called to inquire about where we might live should I have the child, I was told there was no family housing available to undergraduates. Assuming we could find an apartment off campus, I was still left with the issue of what type of daycare was available. I called and was assured that daycare was available…on a limited basis. Enrollment went first to tenured professors, then those on the tenure track, then associate and adjunct professors, then graduate students and then—dangling at the bottom of the food chain—were undergraduate students. Unfortunately, there was no room available at that time but I was free to leave my name on a waiting list. And I suppose I was to pack the baby around in my backpack until there was an opening? As for daycare off campus, I found very few were willing to take newborns and those who did were cost prohibitive on a student's budget.
Then there was dealing with the cost of delivery. It turns out that there was no maternity coverage in my student health care. I was a pregnant 21-year-old student facing the facts of no place to live, no place to leave a child while in class, and no help paying for delivery from my university health insurance. I placed more phone calls that week than any week of my life. If you think registering for classes is difficult, you should try being pregnant and finding resources!
And as much as the major issues I was struggling with, there were a million smaller, practical issues. How in the world would I fit in those little one-piece desks? How far away was I required to park on campus? Where in a college bathroom would I change a diaper? Where on a college campus would I find privacy to nurse my child?
One would think being married would make the situation easier. But it didn't. We were practically children ourselves and we were faced with bringing a child into the world. We didn't know how to be married, let alone parents. It seemed that all of our plans for the future would be derailed by that second little pink line on the pregnancy test.
So I transferred to a smaller campus in the university system to be closer to our families. We moved into an apartment large enough for a child. He found a full-time job that provided health insurance for my pregnancy.
I was able to find a way to have my daughter without relying on the school's programs, but so many other students are not that fortunate. And even with the larger issues of housing, daycare and maternity coverage being addressed; you're still left with parking spaces far from campus and desks that don't accommodate a pregnant woman's figure. Student parents are often forced to change diapers on bathroom floors and find privacy for nursing in unsanitary bathroom stalls.
This year I decided to return to school and advance my education. I find myself in a position where I am a single mother, full-time employee and college student. Fortunately, I've met the age requirements that qualify me as a non-traditional student and there are programs in place to make school easier—far easier than it was as a traditional undergraduate student parent. My academic goals may finally come to fruition some fifteen years after starting college. Pregnancy derailed my plans, and my detour was filled with precious joyous moments beyond my wildest dreams. But I want something better for my daughters and their generation. They deserve better than feeling forced to choose between their education and career plans and their family. Pregnant and parenting students need a central place on campus to go for resources and support, so I ask you to please lend your support to the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act. Thank you.
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