Know your rights as a UI student parent

By Carolina Garibay, buzz editor

When thinking about the “traditional college student,” an 18 to 21-year-old, recent high school graduate might first come to mind. But within the past several years, statistics have shown that description isn’t always true.

More than one in five college undergraduates are student parents. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, nationally, student parents make up 26% of the total undergraduate student population.

Many colleges don’t keep track of how many of their undergraduate students are parents because student parents may not always be comfortable sharing their situations or self-advocating for resources and accommodations. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that schools don’t offer those resources or accommodations.

In fact, under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools are legally required to protect pregnant and parenting students from harassment and discrimination. This includes the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

If you’re an incoming University of Illinois student who is pregnant or has a child or children, here are some of the resources the University offers to support student parents.

 

The U of I Title IX Office

“The Title IX Office is here to help students with questions about their rights, who need assistance with reasonable adjustments or excused absences due to pregnancy or childbirth or who have questions about what the University can do to support them as they continue their education,” said Danielle Morrison, director of the Title IX Office.

Morrison said she is responsible for ensuring that the University’s different programs and activities comply with University policies and state and federal laws relating to sex discrimination and misconduct.

“This includes helping pregnant and parenting students understand their rights and providing reasonable adjustments and assistance,” Morrison said.

Students can set up in-person or phone appointments with the Title IX office by calling 217-333-3333 or emailing [email protected].

 

The U of I Nondiscrimination Policy

One of the biggest factors that affects academic success is the environment of the school, both academically and socially. The U of I Nondiscrimination Policy is designed to encourage and enforce a safe and healthy environment for everyone on campus.

“The U of I Nondiscrimination Policy prohibits discrimination or harassment against any person because of their status within a protected classification, which includes pregnancy and sex,” Morrison said.

The Nondiscrimination Policy applies to all facets of the University, including admissions, employment and access to treatment in different University programs and activities.

If students feel that they are being harassed or discriminated against under the Nondiscrimination Policy, they can file a report to the Office for Access and Equity via phone call (217-333-0885), email ([email protected]) or a report online.

 

The Student Assistance Center

The Student Assistance Center in the Office of the Dean of Students has a page desired to pregnant and parenting students that outlines specific University policies regarding Title IX. This is a great page to visit if you want an easy-to-read list of your rights as a student parent.

This includes parents “who recently experienced childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy or recovery therefrom,” Morrison said.

Morrison suggests that student parents consider connecting to resources through the Student Assistance Center and contacting the Title IX Office to set up a meeting to discuss their rights and options as a student parent at the University.

Research shows that student parents have higher GPAs than their non-parenting peers, despite them having a lower graduation rate. This suggests that student parents are more than capable of academic success but might just not have sufficient resources to foster that success. It’s important that student parents know the resources available to them and that the University supports all students, not just students who fit the definition of “traditional college student.”

“I want our students to succeed, and policies prohibiting discrimination and resources to help pregnant and parenting students can help foster that success,” Morrison said.

 

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