December 11, 2018 | ° F

EDITORIAL: Student parents deserve accommodations


U. has distinct opportunity to address intergenerational poverty


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As midterms approach, the stress associated with college life begins to set in once again. Students who have jobs so as to give themselves a bit of extra financial support experience even higher levels of stress around this part of the semester, trying to balance their work schedules with the time necessary to be allocated toward studying. For some students, this can seem almost impossible. But seemingly invisible to much of Rutgers’ student body is a group that experiences the pressure of both school and work on top of an even more stressful feat — parenthood. 

Contrary to the common conception of a college student, the Institute for Women's Policy Research reported that more than a quarter of college students have children in this country. At Rutgers, the demographic is presumably no different. Since 2015, members of Rutgers Students With Children (RSWC) have been pushing to be genuinely acknowledged by the University as a population and to receive simple access to information and resources that may work to help them stay in school and obtain their degrees. After being essentially ignored despite dozens of meetings with members of the administration, RSWC has issued President Robert L. Barchi a de facto ultimatum in the form of a petition with a list of 12 immediate and long-term demands, none of which bear any significant monetary requirement. The petition has received more than 400 signatures so far. 

As we know, college is more important today than it has been throughout history. People with college degrees statistically make significantly more money and, obviously, have access to more job opportunities. A single mother especially without a college degree is in a tough spot, and if the University neglects to grant them the help they need to graduate without jumping through hoops to do so, these students’ children will be in an even tougher spot. 

One demand on the petition is priority registration for student parents. This would allow students with children who have hectic schedules – just like student athletes — to sign up for classes at times that work for them. Another is to be tracked and named as an official population at Rutgers, which would make these students feel less invisible and marginalized and allow for the tracking of the group’s graduation and retention rates. A third demand is for an overt presence at orientations, so that incoming student parents can learn about the group and the help it can offer them. These are just three examples of relatively simple requests made by RSWC for the past two years that have been effectively ignored by the administration. In an ideal world, all of the requests made by this group would come to fruition, but we clearly do not live in an ideal world. With that said, though, the reasoning behind the lack of receptiveness to this group by the University even for its simple requests is puzzling, especially because there are so many other groups on campus that receive ample support and advocacy, as they should, such as Counseling, ADAP and Psychiatric Services and the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance. 

The Rutgers University Division of Student Affairs presumably exists to promote academic and personal success for all of the University’s students, no matter what group or groups they belong to — this no doubt applies to student parents. RSWC has done an admirable job advocating for its own causes, and it seems the time has come for the University to show it some respect, if not for the student parents, at least for their children whose futures may depend on their parents’ degrees. The administration has the ability to significantly diminish intergenerational poverty by helping student parents on their path to graduation — we hope it makes the right choices with regard to this matter in the months to come. 

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The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 150th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.


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