EDITOR IN CHIEF
Women’s Resource Center (soon to be the Women and Gender Equity Center) director Destinie Freeman remembers when she was a pregnant student in her junior year of college at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).
Her biggest fear? Walking on ice from Lot F to Arts and Sciences Hall during her third trimester.
“Being a pregnant person is already incredibly difficult—it can take a toll on the body,” Freeman said. “Making campus buildings accessible to pregnant students can make going to class safer, as well as making continuing to attend classes easier.”
To accomplish this initiative, Women’s Resource Center board members partnered with a few representatives from Maverick Students for Life and Parking Services to expand the rules of the road.
Establishing parking for pregnant students was a concern for Maverick Students for Life for a while, according to the organization’s president, Lily Gilliand, though she said their efforts were not often met with action from other campus agencies.
“That changed, though, when the director of the WRC ran into our group at an event, and we got to talking,” Gilliand said. “She told us she wanted to work with us in order to make UNO a more parenting/pregnant student-friendly place. With her help, we were able to more effectively advocate for this positive change. It really was a perfectly timed conversation and a mutual passion for supporting students that led to our collaboration on this issue.”
While the organizations have yet to come up with a solution for parking for parenting students, parking and transit manager Vanessa Rath expanded the rules of temporary ADA parking passes to include pregnant students.
“These spots are only available to students who pay for a parking permit and acquire a temporary ADA parking pass,” Freeman said.
To obtain one of these passes, the process looks like this:
-Pregnant students will need to call or visit their doctor’s office and ask them to write a note to parking services requesting temporary ADA access.
-This note only has to include the students name (associated with their NUID) and the end date for the temporary permit. In this case, that would be the students due date or induction date.
-After the doctor’s note is sent to Parking Services, the student will receive a temporary ADA permit through UNO parking services.
“This initiative is neat for a few reasons,” Freeman said. “All the doctor’s note requires is a name and date. So, for trans folks who may be pregnant, they don’t have to ‘defend’ the fact that they are, in fact, pregnant. It also means pregnant people can park in any accessible/‘haandicapped’ spot on campus.”
Gilliand said she was pleased with the outcome of this collaboration but is hopeful for more accommodations for parenting students.
“I am so happy that this is one burden that has been alleviated, but there are so many more things UNO could be doing to provide for an underserved population of students, and I’m hoping this can be a catalyst,” Gilliand said.
The Women’s Resource Center/Women and Gender Equity Center is a safe refuge for pregnant and parenting students, as well. Freeman said the office, located in Milo Bail Student Center 114, offers many resources that make the space child and baby-friendly, and of course, conducive to supporting pregnant students.
Freeman also mentioned that there are pell grants available for eligible students to send their children to the child care center on campus.
“Making campus more accessible to these populations in any way can be a huge help in simply keeping parents enrolled in classes to finish their degree, or even showing pregnant and parenting high school graduates that there is a local and accessible option for higher education,” Freeman said.
In addition to this new change in parking policy, The Women’s Resource Center/Women and Gender Equity Center will host their inaugural Student Parents and Family Time event during Durango Days on August 28.