by Thien-An Nguyen
After finishing a relatively brutal midterm, I was having a nice chat with one of my classmates. During our conversation, I learned that he had been a part-time student for more than half my life, and the reason for this long-term relationship with a Bachelor’s degree (as opposed to the standard four years) was that at the start of his post-secondary career, he had a daughter. As a result of her existence, he put his studies on hold for a while, and returned occasionally to pursue his love of learning. I was inspired by his dual commitment to his studies and to his family despite the obstacles.
That conversation got me thinking. Conventional wisdom tells us that there’s a dichotomy between education and family, that you can’t have both. Yet, the university campus is changing. It’s not just the domain of recent high school graduates. Education should be for people from all walks of life, including those caring for their families and, significantly, young single parents. Realistically, this means providing a variety of resources for pregnant women and single parents, such as campus day cares and classes offered online, at night, or on the weekend. In some respects, the University of Ottawa is not doing too poorly, with an on-campus daycare known as Garderie Bernadette Child Care Centre, though other resources could be improved, such as financial aid and scholarships and perhaps even a babysitter referral service.
Check out the deVeber Institute’s study on the availability of resources on Canadian university campuses for pregnant women and single-parent families and see how the University of Ottawa compares to other post-secondary institutions.
Pregnant women and single-parent families should not be forced to sacrifice their education for their families or the reverse. An accessible campus should also mean one that is conducive and open to parenting students.