A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Nathan Elness through the listserv of UND's Business & Public Administration department (apparently I get on it automatically for taking a class through that department - Problems in Political Science: Women in American Politics). He was emailing about how he is the Business & Public Administration Senator for Student Government, as well as updates on bills that were approved in the Student Senate.
As a student parent, I was excited to see the “UND Student Child Care” bill that had recently been approved. According to anther email I received from Mr. Elness:
This bill allocates up to $10,000 dollars from the Student Projects account to offset the cost by $2 a day for every child of a UND student enrolled at the University Children's Center. This will cover both the Fall '10 and Spring '11 semesters (cannot find this online right now, unfortunately).
I think this bill is beneficial to students who have children. The costs of daycare can be anywhere from $500 to $1000 a month (and that is based on ONE child). Not only that, but in the state of North Dakota, one of the restrictions for being eligible for childcare assistance through the state. Is that going to a four-year university does not count as “work.” Of course, I could work at a paid job while going to a four-year university and I may be able to get assistance during those times ONLY, if my child was at daycare. I could also get childcare assistance if I was going to Northland in East Grand Forks (because it is a two year college). The other thing about receiving childcare assistance is that a parent may have to work at night or on weekends and there are not many other childcare centers open during those times (specifically the center on campus). These are institutionalized barriers for parents.
This then leads to “Letter: SG daycare bill a waste” written by Senior Commercial Aviation student, Adam Fincke, in last week’s Friday edition of the Dakota Student (Letters to the Editor are not published online). He states that the bill is a waste because the bill does not include ALL students at UND. He also discusses the personal sacrifices non-parent students makes such as not owning a car, not flying home on weekends, working night and weekends jobs, and not owning a companion animal.
While I commend anyone for making personal sacrifices in order to further their education (because I am sure most of us have done this on campus as a student), I would also like to point out that student parents are probably making some of the same sacrifices as non-parent students. These are personal choices, as well, for ALL. The choice on whether to continue a pregnancy is a choice that students face (and I could argue that this is more critical than choosing whether or not to have a companion animal). I am sure the institutional barriers come to mind when making this decision such as: can I afford it? How much harder will school be? Will I be able to graduate? When is the baby due? Is the father going to be involved? And so on. Those questions crossed my mind.
I support/ed the SG daycare bill because it HELPS parents who are students, instead of blaming them for a personal choice they have made or making the barriers of higher education even harder. Of course, this bill does not include every student on campus; there have been other bills that do not “include” every student at UND, as well. Bills that I found on the UND Student Government website are: (Computers for Underprivileged) Project (added 12/9/09) or Studio One Closed Captioning (added 12/4/09). Would any of us NOT be favor of these bills because they technically do NOT cover all students (or community members)? I support both bills. Again, these bills help people who have institutional barriers that can lead to furthering their education and experience at UND. Thank you, Student Government.
As students, we have all made sacrifices to go to school, whether that has been moving from another state to UND, going to school as a parent, or having a job as a student. If the Student Government can help students that do not have the same equal opportunity as everyone, I applaud them. Not only can these types of bills make student-life a little easier for the ones who have barriers, but it also helps people who might make choices to NOT attend college because of some of the barriers we face. Like I have said before: we are not all born or are ever on the same “playing field” as everyone else. We can reduce specific barriers by attempting to provide services.