As society progresses, higher education needs to adapt to match the needs of people trying to access it. Education should not be targeted to a narrow demographic. But, it’s still only accessible to certain folks, and action needs to be taken to combat this exclusivity.
This could include ensuring university buildings are accessible to people with disabilities, having a diverse student population, and including different learning models for different learning styles. Another way is to provide resources for student parents, which the University of Alberta has done with the Family Corner.
Located on the third floor of the Rutherford Library, the university has equipped this room with toys, playpens, and more for little ones to play with while their caregiver has a place to study nearby. This is a fantastic addition to the variety of resources offered to U of A students. As well, it addresses the needs of students in need of extra support, who are very rarely recognized.
Students who parent can struggle with balancing their caregiving responsibilities and education. These students have been pushing for more support from post-secondary institutions in recent years. One of the steps the U of A has done to help with this is introducing its Students Who Parent program to help support parents and caregivers across campus.
Women and people who parent already face a wide variety of struggles. Women are more likely to be single parents, and thus can face barriers to their education such as childcare. In fact, even more resources for parents on campus are necessary. Childcare has only been increasing, with some people paying up to $65 a day. This can be difficult for many families to afford, but single-parent families especially. By having the Family Corner, there’s one less thing for students who parent to worry about.
This is a necessary step for the university, who should be addressing the needs of all students on campus. Bottle warmers, toys, and playpens might seem like an insignificant contribution, but ultimately can have a great impact on student parents.
Though the university still has much work to do, the Family Corner is truly a great addition to campus. This new space is absolutely necessary for the U of A’s campaign for inclusive education.
Actions like these are great and we need to see more to promote equity in education. This is a fantastic first-step — the university should continue building off this momentum.