A recent study by the Guttenmacher Institute — a nonprofit and pro-choice organization that seeks to improve reproductive health through public education and social science research — revealed that women between the ages of 20 to 24 account for 33 percent of all abortions. The recent study has put into question the amount of support provided to pregnant students and mothers on university campuses.
“[Colleges] haven’t set up an environment and procedures to handle their pregnant students,” said Beth O’Malley, the national programs coordinator for Students for Life of America (SFLA) in a press release. “Health centers haven’t prepared very well for it.” SFLA is a pro-life organization that works to end abortion, euthanasia and infanticide through campus education and awareness.
According to a survey conducted by SFLA and the Feminists for Life organization, out of 800 students polled, only 15 percent reported seeing advertisements geared toward supporting students who are either mothers or expecting. In order to get a better idea about the child services offered at UCR, the Highlander spoke to residents who lived on university family housing.
“There are very few campuses that offer a children’s center so close by. I mean, there’s even a park right over there,” said Tesherian Ellis, a fourth-year mathematics student and single mother who recently started living in university family housing.
In terms of campus aid, UCR family housing is available to students with children, along with an extensive community through the UCR Child Development Center (CDC), where students can find affordable childcare and kindergarten for children between two months and five years old. The center follows the curriculum set by the California Department of Education and is accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood programs — the largest national nonprofit that represents early childhood educators.
The Campus Health Center (CHC) also provides pregnancy tests and referrals to family planning and obstetricians to students; it is free to those who are covered by the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Health Insurance Plans. Alternative insurance information and health care plans are also provided to expectant mothers.
Lijuan Fu, a fifth-year toxicology graduate student and mother, lives in campus family housing with her husband — a research assistant on campus. Fu felt that there were limited services in terms of child health, insurance counseling and affordable daytime care.
“I think maybe … the university can give some counseling on how to get insurance for the baby because usually for graduate students, I think their income is really low so you know [their] insurance is already expensive for them,” Fu said.
Fu expressed the difficulties of finding daytime care for her son, who is less than two years old.
“You know, sometimes we need some people to help us look at him during nights or during weekends because we need to go to the lab at that time. If the university could offer services to us, then it would be more helpful,” she said.
The campus also provides social resources through the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) that offer workshop and support groups, such as Momma Highlanders with Scotty Cubs and R’kids on campus. In addition, the Well’s website offers tips on healthy pregnancy diet, nutrition and lifestyle. According to the WRC website, “Anyone is free to come, from parents that already have children, to people who are expecting children.”