R’Kids, a student-led organization dedicated to offering a community and resources for student parents are currently in the midst of attempting to institutionalize their organization and gain a space on campus to carry out its activities.
As of this year, the student organization is petitioning the university administration via change.org and during tabling on Wednesdays to get their organization to become an official organization supported by UCR. In addition to petitioning the university, R’Kids needs to be approved by the chancellor and vice chancellor to become a university sponsored organization.
R’Kids would like to have a physical space on campus for student parents upon institutionalization and they are proposing that it be located at the Bannockburn Village apartments. This is partly due to the amount of space available to host the organization and its close proximity to both the main campus and Oban, the family housing center.
The organization would like its resource center to be located at Bannockburn because it has enough space to accommodate for the center and is optimally located Marquez explained. “It is both on and off campus and it’s also very near the Veterans Resource Center and they have a very large population of student parents. There’s a grassy area and it’s close to Oban.”
R’Kids President Yvonne Marquez explained that the goal of R’Kids at the moment is “getting UCR senators to sponsor the resolution.” She continued, “And from there, after we have that accomplished, we’re going to present it to the chancellor and vice chancellor and see what happens.”
If the organization becomes an official university run organization, Marquez would like R’Kids to have resources for student parents such as finding housing off campus, drop in child care hours, and homework clubs for the student’s children.
According to Marquez, the organization was founded in 2013 but went through some rough patches in its history because it has not been able to become institutionalized. “If there’s not somebody willing to take up the role of the board each quarter and continue the work, it falls apart, especially because most of us are transfer students enrolled for two years,” said Marquez.
During their tabling to promote their organization, Marquez said R’Kids members were motivated to take the initiative to become established as an official organization while talking to other student parents about the lack of resources available to them through UCR. “There’s not emergency housing. There’s a huge lack of childcare both on campus and just a lack of funding in general. So we’re experiencing things completely differently. And we’re essentially no different from any other student,” Marquez said.
According to Marquez, student parents also receive little resources, and even the ones that they do have at their disposable are not enough to make a big difference.
“We saw the crisis managers,” Marquez said. “We did everything we were supposed to do. And yet it’s two, three, four years later and the university has not acted. All they’ve actually done is admitted more of us and put an even bigger strain on the resources that do exist.”
Even the family housing, Oban, according to Marquez, is unsuitable for student parents — albeit good for families, it is inconvenient and not built for students due to the lack of study spaces and access to printing. In addition, trying to get into Oban is difficult in itself as Marquez claims that the waiting list for Oban currently has over 350 students.
Along with UC Berkeley, UCR has the highest amount of undergraduate student parents in the UC system according to a report published by the UC in January. However, unlike UC Berkeley, UCR does not have a resource center for childcare hours. Marquez argues that the UCR administration should be more considerate of student parents.
“Because most of us are low income, first-generation students who are nontraditional, we already are ten steps back from our peers,” said Marquez. “They have to recognize that we are here and start backing up the resources to help us be successful.”
Marquez noted that if you lift one generation out of poverty, you automatically bring the next generation out of poverty with them. She stated, “The university needs to recognize that and start having those resources for the non-traditional students that they like to brag come here.”