Published: April 5, 2007
A Pro-Life Response
Pepperdine University provides housing for unmarried mothers.
When married students at Christian colleges need housing, many colleges offer no alternatives if the students have children. If a female student at a Christian college finds herself unwed and pregnant, the problem becomes more acute with the added fear of expulsion.
Patricia Heaton, Emmy-winning actress and honorary chair of Feminists for Life, spoke on the campus of Pepperdine University last fall. Her speech, “Women Deserve Better than Abortion,” ignited a movement of students and administrators to open the doors to life on campus.
Since the university is located in Malibu, finding affordable off-campus housing for the average Pepperdine student is all but impossible. But almost immediately after Heaton’s speech, a new policy was adopted to allow children to live in the George Page Apartments on campus.
Mark Davis, Pepperdine’s dean of students, says that allowing children a place on campus may alleviate the housing squeeze for some students but the overall problem of general student housing remains. “We do not have enough housing for all of our students. We have about 60 percent of our undergrads living on campus. We want to be a residential school, so we have a strategic goal of having 75 percent of our students to be able to live on campus. We have many more students who want to live on campus than we can accommodate.”
“In the past, our policy was that you had to draw the line somewhere. So in the past, we didn’t offer any housing for our married students. A few years ago we opened it up for married students. Then last year, after Patricia Heaton came, concerns were raised by grad students who became pregnant while they were here, so we decided to revisit that policy and allow students to live on campus who had children.”
Affiliated with the Church of Christ, Pepperdine’s official policy is that sexual relationships are reserved for married couples. However, that does not mean expulsion for unwed mothers. “I convened a task force this year, including representatives from our health center, academic advising, financial aid and students,” said Davis.
“Although we have not developed an official policy yet, we have developed this statement: ‘When a student become pregnant she is faced with many difficult decisions. At Pepperdine we are strongly committed to being a caring support system in the event that an unmarried student should become pregnant. It is Pepperdine’s goal to provide resources, support and assistance for the student to continue in her studies. While Pepperdine does not support a student’s choice to engage in sexual relations outside of marriage, we do support the pregnant student throughout the process.’
"Then we put in bold, ‘We will not pursue disciplinary action regarding the matter. If a student becomes pregnant while at Pepperdine, highly confidential and caring assistance is available through the health and counseling centers as well as other offices.’
"Then we provide a list of the different offices that could assist and we are working on a list of frequently asked questions.”
© California Catholic Daily 2007. All Rights Reserved.
Article URL: http://www.calcatholic.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?id=78b59a8d-ef21-45e8-8b64-b15643d618a4
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