Dear President, Provost, Vice President for Student Life, and Deans:
As the representative of over 7,000 graduate students, and with the full support of all student government leaders representing the entire student body at the University at Buffalo, we send you a report on the status of students with care responsibilities, with a focus on parenting students. As student government leaders, we are concerned with the lack of support and the manifold access barriers that students who are parents face, especially in light of the freedom from discrimination based on familial status, marital status, and gender that UB promises under Title IX.
Based on a preliminary survey of parenting students, and as a result of conversations with key stakeholders across campus, we recommend UB implement a task force this summer whose sole purpose is to assess the access barriers that students with care responsibilities face. We call on UB to broaden its support of parenting students campus-wide by instituting a universal parental leave policy, expanding childcare assistance and hours, reducing spatial access barriers (such as the lack of lactation rooms and changing tables, as well as subsidized family-friendly on-campus housing), providing funding increases and creating an emergency loan program, and offering free or reduced family attendance at UB events and facilities. Other comparable R-1 universities offer far more support for students who are parents, and as a leader in higher education in New York state we would like to see UB continue to attract and retain the highest qualified students independent of their familial status. This can only be realized if UB reduces the access barriers that parenting students currently face.
Attached you will find a preliminary report, a plan for action, as well as student testimonials and the GSA resolution calling for support for parenting students at UB. We sincerely hope that this will propel UB’s conversation about discrimination and inclusive excellence into action, and look forward to being part of the university’s efforts to reduce access barriers for parenting students.
Tanja N. Aho
Department of Transnational Studies
PhD Candidate in American Studies
University at Buffalo (SUNY)
310 Student Union (GSA) / 1010 Clemens Hall (TNS)
Buffalo, NY 14260