The college pregnancy of a former Feminists for Life board member, which sadly ended in miscarriage, gave birth to a new idea. When she learned she was pregnant, she looked around her campus and said, “Without housing on campus for me and my baby, without on-site day care, without maternity coverage in my health insurance, it sure doesn’t feel like I have much of a free choice.” At that time, FFL’s College Outreach Program focused on educational speeches and ads. By sharing her story, she inspired our work to meet the needs of pregnant and parenting students.
In late 1996, Feminists for Life introduced its first university health clinic kits, which help clinic staff better understand a pregnant student’s situation and direct her to the resources she wants and needs. A few months later, FFL moderated the first Pregnancy Resource Forum at Georgetown University, bringing students and administration members together to identify, publicize, and improve campus resources for pregnant and parenting students. Since that time, Feminists for Life has become a catalyst for change on campuses across the United States.
Do pregnant students have a choice to parent and remain at your college or alma mater? If you don’t see visibly pregnant women or parents on campus—including professors on the tenure track—that may indicate a problem.
“Feminists for Life University” is our dream college. It is a composite of the best pro-woman, pro-parent, pro-child solutions devised by students and administrators during FFL-hosted Pregnancy Resource Forums, plus a few of our own creative ideas.
For now it exists only as an ideal—only in our minds. But you are invited to take ideas that suit your campus, and work towards making it a reality.
Serrin M. Foster
WELCOME TO FFLU
Our Dream Campus
Mattie Brinkerhoff Hall — Susan B. Anthony Child Care Center
Matilda Joslyn Gage Brigade — Alice Paul Library
Dr. Charlotte Lozier Student Health Center — Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell Hospital
Sarah Norton Scholarship Fund
Like many schools, FFLU is committed to academic excellence, training the leaders of the future, and serving the good of all people. FFLU is known for its qualified and dedicated faculty and its outstanding research facilities. But FFLU also offers something more, something that other schools strive to emulate.
When you were researching colleges, you were already aware that our diverse student population includes parents. Some are older, nontraditional students. A few had children before they came to college. Many are married grad students in long doctoral programs who didn’t want to wait forever to start a family, so they were grateful to find FFLU. We also accept student transfers from pregnant undergrads, some planning on placing their children for adoption, who wanted a supportive environment for themselves and their children. Faculty and staff have found that the same resources that make FFLU more accessible to pregnant and parenting students also make FFLU an ideal employer for pregnant and parenting staff.
Our commitment to pregnant and parenting students through resources and support is conveyed during orientation and our student handbook. The campus newspaper, named The Revolution Continues after Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s newspaper The Revolution, includes regular resource updates and family profiles. The campus radio station occasionally interviews families as well as university officials. A cutting-edge ad campaign directs students to a website rich with pregnancy and parenting resources.
The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Center is the heartbeat of the campus. It is named after the suffragist who organized the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. She and Susan B. Anthony fought for the right of slaves to be free, the right of women to vote, and the right to life. Staff and volunteers at the center coordinate resources for pregnant and parenting students, professors (yes, professors—even women on the tenure track!), and staff. A staffer is available by phone 24/7 for pregnant and parenting students. Staff is also trained to address domestic violence and sexual assault.
The Stanton Center offers parenting classes and advice on how to balance school and parenting, provides counseling for birth mothers before and after placing a child for adoption, hosts reproductive grief support groups, and offers individual counseling as needed. One-on-one discussions with pregnant and parenting students help them select the resources they need from the school’s many options and simultaneously provide the Stanton Center with regular feedback.
There is a flagpole in front of Stanton Center. We raise a flag celebrating the birth of every child of students, professors and staff—just like Elizabeth Cady Stanton did when she gave birth to a son or daughter.
Student mothers anticipating the birth of a “legacy” receive an FFLU maternity t-shirt or sweatshirt. Dads aren’t ignored, either. They get caps. Parents get totes, and babies their own FFLU bib.
The Stanton Center director is known for getting corporate sponsors to donate and has instituted a model “recycling” program for clothes and equipment (strollers, cribs, car seats).
The Center staff liaison with off-campus resources. They are in touch with other pregnancy care centers, doctors (OB/GYNs), and adoption agencies. They access government resources as needed, like the financial services available through Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC Nutrition Program).
The Center buys supplies in bulk, so parents can purchase the basics for babies at reduced cost (diapers, formula and food).
Stanton Center staff coordinates resources on and off campus. They also ensure that the Center, playground and family homes are all up to code.
Jane Addams Village offers affordable family housing adjacent to campus. It is named for the founder of Hull House, a multiple building settlement in Chicago’s inner city that provided housing, day care, elder care, a public kitchen, educational opportunities, and library and recreation facilities to workers and families in need. The board of trustees set aside the first building in FFLU’s village, a Victorian mansion converted for multi-family use with a washer and dryer in every apartment. As interest grew, additional houses were built or acquired.
At Mattie Brinkerhoff Hall, the communal dining area, parents take turns cooking family style with the guidance and supervision of a certified dietician, so they have only one meal to make every two weeks. The dietician handles specialized dietary needs.
Mattie Brinkerhoff, The Revolution, September 2, 1869
Susan B. Anthony Child Care Center is named for the great leader of the suffrage movement. She never made it to the Seneca Falls Convention because, as a teacher, she was taking care of everyone else’s children. Anthony helped raise the seven children of her friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and doted on her own nieces. She even referred to younger generation feminists as her “nieces,” and they called her “Aunt Susan.”
Through the Anthony Center, affectionately known as “Aunt Susan’s Center” to campus parents and children, FFLU offers day care for children of students as well as faculty and staff members. Students majoring in early education supplement the staff for hands-on learning and practicum credit. For student parents, there are special discounts, hourly rates, and scholarships. The university also subsidizes a childcare co-op organized by student parents.
The Anthony Center accepts infants as well as older children. They have pre-kindergarten, Head Start and after school care.
Parents can check in on their children through an online video cam and are encouraged to stop by for lunch or between classes.
Not every parent enrolls his or her child at the Anthony Center. Some choose to telecommute for all or part of their education. Should a student have to miss class due to the illness of a child, for instance, the class is available online.
The Matilda Joslyn Gage Brigade, named for the radical feminist scholar and humanitarian activist, is a student-led volunteer corps with two divisions. The first division provides child care so that moms and dads can get away for study groups, dinner, a movie or a game. These sitters are certified in CPR, and have been trained in home safety, first aid, and nutrition. They have a number to call in case they have questions for child care professionals. The second division does service work for pregnant and parenting students, like running errands and picking up groceries.
Some parents prefer to trade sitting with other parents. Other parents trade tutoring for babysitting services. Many students order groceries and other necessities online.
The campus is fully accessible to people on wheels—both wheelchairs and strollers. We have clearly labeled, strategically placed diaper decks across campus in both women’s and men’s restrooms. Comfortable places to nurse babies adjoin women’s rooms for those who prefer privacy. Our student parents have no need to change a baby on a dirty floor or sit on a toilet seat to nurse!
Classrooms are equipped with desks or chairs and tables that accommodate a pregnant woman.
The Alice Paul Library, named for the feminist who wrote the original Equal Rights Amendment and called abortion the “ultimate exploitation of women,” has a sound-proof “crying room” for parents.
Pregnancy tests are free and confidential at the Dr. Charlotte Lozier Student Health Center, named for the doctor who raised several children while teaching and maintaining an active maternal/child health practice. Staff is knowledgeable about resources on and off campus. Maternity coverage is included in health care and additional riders are available for family members.
The Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell Hospital, named for the first American woman to earn an M.D., is adjacent to the campus. This teaching hospital has a reputation for excellence in obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics. Staff is knowledgeable about paternity establishment, and educates fathers about their rights and responsibilities.
Every year the Stanton Center asks someone from Feminists for Life to moderate a Pregnancy Resource Forum at FFLU in order to take inventory of resources available on and off campus and to discover what resources can be improved. FFLU’s Pregnancy Resource Forums are always well publicized. Representatives from different campus services, administration members, and parenting students, faculty, and staff receive personal invitations. The Stanton Center is eager to discover and implement creative ideas for accommodating parents’ specific needs. FFL staff (really do) take all these great ideas to other campuses who think pregnant and parenting students are still academically capable, but need and deserve our support!
At the beginning of each academic year, all university staff and professors go through an orientation program of their own. Because they are more likely to be approached by students in need, people who work in student health, financial aid, residential life, counseling, and the health center, as well as chaplains, club leaders, coaches and advisors, receive more extensive information from staff at the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Center.
There are many options for students at FFLU who may have trouble attending a full day of classes. FFLU offers classes online, and several professors are willing to take on a number of students per semester for independent study. There are class times throughout the morning, afternoon, and into the evening, so students are free to select the classes needed to fulfill curriculum requirements around their work schedules. The administration and academic advisors understand that it isn’t always possible to complete an undergraduate degree in four years, or to finish a post-graduate degree “on time.” Faculty and staff work with students to balance family, education and work.
FFLU students are able to attend school part time and retain their merit- and need-based financial aid. Students with athletic scholarships who can not complete the school year or cannot compete due to pregnancy are “red shirted” so they will not lose their scholarships, and can return the next year without penalty.
The Sarah Norton Scholarship Fund is named for the suffragist who successfully argued women’s admission to Cornell University and said, “Perhaps there will come a time when…an unmarried mother will not be despised because of her motherhood…and when the right of the unborn to be born will not be denied or interfered with” (Woodhull’s and Clafflin’s Weekly, November 19, 1870). Funds solicited from donors and alumni are specifically set aside for students who choose to parent while attending college.
If students prefer, they can take a semester or full year of leave.
Should a transfer to another college or university prove the best option for a pregnant student, FFLU accepts and facilitates transfers from other colleges. Students may transfer to FFLU permanently or return to their universities.
Parenting faculty and staff consider FFLU an ideal, “family friendly” employer, because the school extends the same concern to them as to its students. FFLU recognizes that it is in the whole school’s best interest to offer parenting employees reasonable parental leave and creative options like flex time and job sharing. Open communication and cooperation among faculty, staff and administration allow the school to find the right solutions for each employee.
YOU CAN HELP ENSURE THE REVOLUTION CONTINUES
Now that you have toured FFLU, take our Pregnancy Resource Survey and rate your campus.
Subscribe to our free e-list and let us know if you have ideas to improve FFLU. You can become a great advocate for pregnant and parenting students. Don’t accept the status quo.
If you are a pro-woman, pro-life student leader who refuses to choose between women and children and believes women deserve better than abortion, you are invited to contact our College Outreach Program Coordinator. Feminists for Life has free student kits, a calendar filled with activities for small and large groups, free Women Deserve Better® posters and ad/flyer series, information on hosting a speaker or FFL Pregnancy Resource Forum, information on starting an FFL group on-campus, year-round support from FFL staff and more.