In an effort to make Utah State University a more family-friendly campus, the Aggie Childcare Committee is raising funds to help the construction of an infant care/lactation space in the Merrill-Cazier Library.
“We have a lot of students who are also parents,” said USU Inclusion Center Director Michelle Bogdan-Holt. “We are always wanting to be the most inclusive campus we can be, and part of that means making sure that our students who are parents, faculty who are parents and staff who are parents have enough spaces where they can provide infant care.”
The committee, created to help address the needs of student parents, is working on two projects to help parents feel comfortable studying while still caring for their children.
“Over and over again, what we heard from them was that we need, or they needed, more space on campus where they feel comfortable to bring their kids,” Committee member Kristin Hall said. “The lactation space was one of those things that came up a lot.”
The first project is the remodel of an underused area in the library into a family study space where students who are parents could meet with study groups in a quiet room where they can watch their children as they play in the playroom.
This new family study space, funded through grants, would replace the temporary space that was established in the library last year.
The second project is remodeling a space donated by the library into an infant care/lactation space. Since this project is not covered by the grants, the committee is asking for donations to finish remodeling and furnishing the space.
“We are so thrilled that the Merril-Cazier Library, the dean and associate dean have been so generous to donate this space to be able to provide this infant care/lactation space,” Bogdan-Holt said. “But we really need help in doing the remodel.”
With a rendering created by interior design student Kelcie Buchanan, the committee plans for the space to have a sink with running water, a changing station, electrical outlets and comfortable furnishings to help create a space where parents can relax and care for their children.
“Just a place that feels nice, feels clean, feels welcoming for parents to come in,” Hall said. “It’s not going to be super huge or anything like that, but we don’t want parents to have to go into a bathroom stall to feed their kids.”
Merrill-Cazier Library Associate Dean for Instruction Jeanne Davidson said the infant care/lactation space is needed on campus.
“We know it’s needed,” Davidson said. “There’s a lot of moms in particular who really want to just have a place to be able to do what they need to do.”
Bogdan-Holt said the committee sees the projects as part of a larger effort to offer more parent-friendly spaces on campus as well as part of a statewide initiative that encourages women to return to school or complete their education.
“Sometimes what we’ll see is women may drop out when they start their families,” Bogdan-Holt said. “Another purpose to all of this is to encourage women, in particular, to continue their studies.”
Davidson said the school wants to be open and available to as many people that need their services.
“We know that student parents have a challenging job being a parent and a student at the same time, and we want to do whatever we can to support them,” Davidson said.
Both projects are scheduled to be completed by the fall semester.
The committee hopes to raise $10,000 for the remodel of the space. For more information and to donate for the infant care/lactation space, visit usu.edu/aggiefunded/infantroom.