Single Parent Gets Financial Aid Reinstated – Thanks to the Pregnant on Campus Initiative!

An appeal for help

The phone rang. It was a 10:35 am, and I didn’t recognize the number, although it had a Colorado ID. On other end was a desperate sounding young mom of an 11-week-old baby.

“I was given your number and told that you could help me with my rights as a single parent and student,” the young woman on the other end said hurriedly. (We’ll call her *Esther.)

Esther’s story rapidly unfolded. She goes to a Colorado community college (where we just started a Students for Life club), and she received my number from someone I gave it to when I clipboarded with the Students for Life leaders in November. Esther had to miss class when she gave birth to her son in November. Unfortunately, Esther had not been informed of her Title IX rights by her professors, academic advisor, or school administration. She did not know that necessary pregnancy-related absences (like childbirth and recovery from childbirth) are protected under Title IX. She should have been allowed excused absences from her classes as well as accommodated with enough time and information to make up any missed classwork, assignments, and exams.

Her professors and school staff failed to provide this critical information and support. Esther ended up dropping out of a class and taking an incomplete in another class. She was later informed that she did not complete enough credits to be able to qualify for financial aid this term.

I texted our National Pregnant on Campus Director, Beth Rahal, and we worked together to come up with the information and steps that Esther needed to take in order to effectively resolve her situation. We sent Esther an email explaining her rights under Title IX and why her situation should be deemed a Title IX violation. We provided her with the name and contact info for the Title IX Coordinator at her college, as well as a detailed explanation of what questions to ask and how to explain and defend her situation.

Esther texted me that evening – February 1st – letting me know that she appealed her appeal. Within two days, Esther had recovered her financial aid. She told me recently that she feels so empowered to be a mom and finish her education. “I was about to have a mental breakdown before I called you,” she said.

When people around the country heard about Esther’s story, they offered to donate to a baby shower for her. So on Thursday, March 9th, our Students for Life club threw Esther a baby shower as their first official event! Esther’s face lit up as she opened a package with a baby gym and boxes of diapers for her little son.

A Change of Heart

I thought I knew what love was. Then I had my son,” Esther said. “It’s like, ‘No! I’ve got to hold him!” Esther exclaimed.

But like many students in her position, this wasn’t always Esther’s perspective when she thought of having a baby – just one year ago. “I made an appointment for an abortion. My town’s Planned Parenthood was booked out several weeks. So I made an appointment at a Planned Parenthood an hour or so away.”

“When I asked my friend to drive me to a ‘doctor’s appointment’ out of town, she said, ‘Why are you going there for a doctor’s appointment? What’s up?’”

“A stomach bug, you know,” Esther lied.

“Come on,” her friend replied. “What’s really going on?”

At this point, Esther told her friend the truth. Her friend responded, “You’re trying to hide that you’re getting an abortion because you know you’re going to regret it. Let’s tell our youth pastor….”

Esther never showed up for her abortion appointment.

A Community of Support

Esther’s church and community surrounded her with the love and help that she needed to succeed as a new mom and a student. They provided babysitting and tangible support when she needed it most. Esther is also especially grateful for the rapid response of the Students for Life of America team. “I thought I was going to have to wait for weeks,” Esther said. “But you picked up the phone and gave me the contact information for who to talk with within a couple hours. Within two days, everything was resolved.”

We are so happy to be a part of Esther’s journey and to have had the opportunity to assist Esther and her family! Students for Life America’s Pregnant on Campus Initiative helps pregnant and parenting students in all 50 states complete their education and connects them to local resources including childcare, healthcare, health insurance, housing, food, clothing, and pregnancy testing and counseling.

 

This post was contributed by Bethany Janzen, Rocky Mountain Regional Coordinator at Students for Life of America. *The parenting student’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

2017 East Coast Pregnant on Campus Group of the Year

Through the Pregnant on Campus Initiative, Students for Life of America asks student leaders, like you, to engage your group in advocating for pregnant and parenting students on your campus. However, this Initiative must be engaged in as more than one student group effort on campus. We want you to unite your community in support of your parenting peers, and we strongly encourage collaboration between school offices and other student organizations. That is exactly what the Pregnancy and Parenting Initiative at Clarion University (PPRI) has accomplished! PPRI has brought together their whole community—students and administration—to create unique, effective solutions for the pregnant and parenting students.

Thanks to their persistent and courageous efforts, PPRI has been able to…

Moreover, this group has been proactive in responding to the needs of individual pregnant and parenting students on campus. When the group learned of 2 parenting students who needed lactation space, student leader Liz McNitt and the school’s Title IX Coordinator found an empty office space. Seeing that this need would be important for future parenting students, they opened a designated lactation room in the next semester. When a student was struggling to find and afford a babysitter, the group paired her with another member to exchange babysitting help.

When asked why she believes that the Pregnancy and Parenting Resources Initiative is important resource on campus, Tyana, a student parent at Clarion University, shared:

“I think this club is important because it helps parents like me to not feel alone. Being a mom in college is really hard sometimes, and it’s nice to talk to other moms that are going through the same thing. It’s also a great resource. When I have questions or need help with anything, I know who to go to.”

We are proud to award the 2017 East Coast Pregnant on Campus Group of the Year Award to Clarion University’s Pregnancy and Parenting Resources Initiative.

Check out PPRI’s campus resources webpage here!

Watch Liz McNitt’s presentation on our “Helping Moms Be Heroes” panel:


This post was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Director.

Title IX saves lives

Learning to Care

As a student-athlete in college, I had heard about Title IX ever so briefly during our team orientations. We were lectured on gender equity in sports and informed that our women’s teams would be just as well supported as our male counterparts. There was probably a Q&A segment, and maybe we had to fill out papers to sign acknowledging our awareness of this information. Other than that, it wasn’t a big deal. I might have also heard about Title IX in history class or in passing references to sexual harassment and assault on campus, but for the most part, I was in the dark. For all I cared, Title IX was 5 letters and 2 Roman numerals.

I find that this is the case with most students. If you aren’t personally experiencing discrimination on campus or in a position to need these types of resources, you aren’t likely to have sought out this information or learned it in earnest. Many times, we don’t bother learning critical information, like Title IX rights and accommodations or even our local pregnancy support resources, until we need it (for ourselves or a classmate asking for help). We assume that we’ll be able to access all this information when the time comes.

And while this is true in many cases, it’s not the best approach! Delays in providing information can cause more distress for your pregnant and parenting peers. As a student leader on campus (especially one who advocates for pregnant and parenting students), you need to take the time to research this information, compile it in one place, and discuss it with your group so that you are prepared to respond promptly and effectively to the concerns and needs of your peers.

Why It Matters

Title IX provides protections and accommodations for pregnant and parenting students at schools which receive federal funding. Therefore, it can be a great tool to ensure that pregnant and parenting students stay in school and receive fair accommodations and support. Unfortunately, most students don’t know that these protections and accommodations are available. This can lead to students making devastating choices (e.g. dropping out of school or getting an abortion). Lack of information can also prevent a student from asserting her rights when she is being discriminated against or not adequate support.

Over the past 3 years, our Students for Life of America staff has noted that Title IX information is one of the top resources that pregnant and parenting students request. Simple, articulate explanations of this information has yielded some amazing results! Here are some of the situations we have witnessed over the years:

After learning about Title IX …

  • Pregnant students are better able to communicate their situation, their rights, and their needs to their professors and administrations.
  • Students have been able to resolve issues of grades and class credits that resulted from improper handlings of pregnancy-related absences (e.g. missed classwork during childbirth and recovery).
  • Pregnant students have been able to stay on their sports teams and in their special programs (e.g. honors classes) without penalty or loss of scholarship.
  • Parenting students have been able to defend their right to breastfeed their babies on campus.

This past week, we had the opportunity to work with a parenting student (Ruth) at Pikes Peak Community College to resolve her financial aid situation. Ruth was told that she would lose financial aid after having not completed enough class credits in the past semester. However, Ruth had never received Title IX information or additional support to complete those classes. Thanks to some quick teamwork, we were able to explain how to address this situation with the school’s Title IX Coordinator and what information to present. It was a success!

Lives Saved

What’s more, Title IX has saved lives. About two weeks ago, our West Coast Regional Director, Reagan Barklage, was contacted by the Executive Director of a pregnancy resource center. The Executive Director had a client who was a student-athlete. The young girl considered aborting her baby because she was afraid that she would lose her basketball scholarship and have to drop off the team.

Thankfully, our Pregnant on Campus Initiative is prepared to handle these situations. Reagan and I worked together to get Title IX and NCAA student-athlete information sent to the Executive Director. After explaining this Title IX information, this brave student-athlete chose life!

What You Can Do

We want you to be able to effectively support your pregnant and parenting peers on campus. Contact our team for such resources as:

  • Title IX student group training
  • Title IX flyers and social media graphics
  • Ideas for how to advertise and share this information
  • Assistance in dealing with a Title IX pregnancy or parenting situation on your campus

Learn more about Title IX here: www.PregnantOnCampus.org/Students-Rights

 

This post was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Director. To share your story or your group’s successes on campus, email Beth at brahal@studentsforlife.org.

2017 West Coast Pregnant on Campus Group of the Year

Located in the “Late-Term Abortion Capital” of the country, University of New Mexico students are daily faced with a community that supports and even encourages abortion. And yet, despite the challenges of this environment, Students for Life UNM have persisted and thrived in their efforts to bring life-affirming, empowering options and resources to women on their campus. The group’s Pregnant on Campus Initiative has been welcomed by the student community and departments on campus, and has repeatedly captured the local media’s attention over the past 3 years.

This past year, Students for Life UNM has hosted numerous events to support pregnant and parenting students, including:

  • Valentine’s Day, Share the Love: Passing out as many as 75 roses, pregnancy tests, and PRC information packets
  • Mother’s Day “Chari-Tea”: A classy tea party for women and mothers to raise money for their local PRC
  • Pregnant and Parenting Student Support Night: A discussion panel to address pregnant and parenting student issues
  • Give Back Christmas: Encouraging UNM students to donate to local organizations that support the community
  • AND MORE!

This group has been instrumental in helping students choose life and complete their degrees. They helped save 2 babies on campus and at least 10 babies in the local community. They even worked with a local university to help a new student mom graduate a month early, and further celebrated her by hosting a baby shower!

Last but not least, Students for Life UNM is responsible for introducing and passing 5 Student Government resolutions, including:

  1. Diaper changing stations: To be installed in every building in both genders’ bathrooms
  2. Mom-to-be Parking: For moms in their 3rd trimester
  3. Parental Leave for New Student Parents: For both mom and dad!
  4. Family Friendly” Student Study Lounge
  5. Equal Access to Options: Adding life-affirming resources to their school website

This group is an incredible testament to the compassionate and effective outreach of the Pregnant on Campus Initiative. We are proud to honor UNM Students for Life as our 2017 Pregnant on Campus Group of the Year!

 

This post was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Director. To get your student group involved in our Initiative, please contact your SFLA Regional Coordinator.

 

Christmas 2016 Giveaway!

Christmas is only a few days away! Whether or not you participate in this holiday, this month is often celebrated as a time of giving and joy. We thought that it was only right to join in the seasonal fun and send a little holiday cheer to our groups around the country. This year, we are giving away stickers! (YAY!) On Wednesday, December 21st, we will post (on this page) a sign up sheet. The first 50 student leaders to reply will receive 100 “I support pregnant & parenting students” stickers for their group!

Thank you for all that you have done to spread love and generosity to the pregnant and parenting students in your community. We hope that you continue to do so (with these stickers!) in the New Year.

**Please return on Wednesday to sign up**

(Limit: 1 set of stickers per student group.)

Thank you to all who participated! Groups have been notified, and your stickers will be mailed out by the end of the 1st week of January. Happy New Year!

 

International students find pregnancy support at ASU

xun-and-wife-and-jackie-asuWhile many students will be “far from home” as they pursue their college education, “far from home” takes on new meaning to an international student. Coming to the United States for college may mean mastering a second language, acclimating to a different culture, and tackling all the challenges of young adulthood without family nearby.

But what happens when an international student (or their wife or girlfriend) becomes pregnant? Who is there to help them? Thankfully, at Arizona State, international student, Xun, and his wife found the support that they needed through ASU Students for Life.

Read what ASU Students for Life had to share below (found here, Oct. 21st):

“With permission from the parents, ASU Pregnant on Campus is OVERJOYED to share the story of Xun and his wife…and their unborn baby girl due this December!

A few years ago, Xun, an international student, noticed the ASU Pregnant on Campus table while walking through campus. He immediately thought, “I guess some students may need services like that.” Little did he know that in his last year of college he would be one of them!

He brought his wife from China to the United States, and they became pregnant without any insurance to cover prenatal care or their baby’s delivery. Their parents pressured them to abort, but Xun and his wife knew they did not want that. Despite the odds, they wanted to have their child.

wife-xun-arizona-stateRemembering the POC table he had seen years before, Xun wondered if our initiative was still around. With a quick Google search he was able to find our website and contact us to explain his situation.

Our chairwoman at the time linked him with Aid to Women Center (ATWC), a low-cost prenatal care provider for women without insurance, and also supported him through determining eligibility for AHCCCS state health insurance to cover the cost of delivery. Xun and his wife were impressed with ATWC and are still receiving care there, and they have been approved for insurance too. Their baby girl is due this December.

It was a joyful emotional moment for our chairwoman to meet them face to face for the first time this week! They are so grateful for all the help they have received and said that without ASU Pregnant on Campus, they could not have gotten this far in their pregnancy.”

 

This post is shared with permission from Xun’s family and ASU Students for Life. See more Pregnant on Campus efforts at Arizona State University here. To share your story, contact Beth Rahal, brahal@studentsforlife.org 

Top 12 Public Colleges for Pregnant and Parenting Students

Students for Life of America, the nation’s largest pro-life youth organization, released this year’s list of Top Colleges and Universities for Pregnant and Parenting Students – Public School Edition.

“Unexpectedly finding out you are pregnant as a college student can be terrifying, lonely, and a huge shock. These students need support and encouragement, and the schools that go out of their way to offer programs, housing, scholarships, and childcare to these students should be commended,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “Instead of sending pregnant students to the nearest Planned Parenthood, these schools have put a premium on offering pregnant and parenting students the resources they need so they don’t have to choose between the life of their child and their education.”

According to a 2014 Guttmacher study, 42% of abortions are performed on college aged-women, ages 18-24.  Many students feel the pressure to choose an abortion over parenthood, while others feel the pressure to drop out of school and choose parenthood. The top two reasons these mothers give for having an abortion is not being able to continue their job or education and financial issues. But another study done in 2014 shows that 4.8 million undergraduate students are parents of dependent children, making up more than 26% of college students.

SFLA released its first Top Schools for Pregnant and Parenting Students last year but many of them were private Christian or Catholic schools. This year’s list only consists of public universities, a couple of whom were on last year’s list as well.

“Instead of alienating pregnant and parenting students, these public universities are extending a helping hand and making it possible for students to continue their education and care for their families,” said Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Director for Students for Life of America.

In addition to the list below, pregnant students on campus can find excellent resources at www.PregnantonCampus.org, a unique website that has compiled lists of housing options, material resources, financial aid, and support groups at hundreds of schools across the nation.

“We hope that these universities will set the standard when it comes to an attitude of making campus a pregnant and parenting friendly place. They all deserve recognition and applause for their willingness to help all their students succeed,” concluded Hawkins.

Students for Life of America used the following criteria to determine the list of the top schools that foster an environment of true choice, where students can choose their child and their education:

  • The school must have some of kind of support program or network for pregnant and/or parenting students.
  • The school has policies in place that specifically welcome and accept pregnant/parenting students.
  • The school has scholarships for Pregnant/Parenting Students.
  • The school offers housing for students with dependents.
  • The school offers additional resources like lactation rooms, diaper decks, child care for students’ children, etc.

Celebrate Your Campus Resources!

how-can-we-support-flyer-on-campusThanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all the great people and blessings in your life. Our Pregnant on Campus team is grateful for the many campus and community resources that help support pregnant and parenting students. These resources help students stay in school and take care of their kids.

Tangible resources and community support make it easier for pregnant and parenting students to be an active part of your college community. That’s why this Thanksgiving, we are challenging you to go out, find your resources, and celebrate them! 

Our Challenge

From Monday, November 14th through Saturday, November 19th, help us find campus resources for pregnant and parenting students. Here’s how it works:

  • Challenge your group members to find one of the resources listed each day.
  • Take a photo! (Or use a photo from a past event)
  • Post your photos on your student group’s social media account with a description of the resource.
  • Add the hashtag #ParentingStudents 
  • Tag our Pregnant on Campus Initiative on Facebook and Instagram (@PregnantOnCampus).

The top 3 groups that post the most images on social media will win:

Contact Beth Rahal (Pregnant on Campus Director at brahal@studentsforlife.org with any questions. GOOD LUCK!

Resources Scavenger Hunt

You have 6 days to find these resources. Here are each day’s topics and recommended resources. Now go find them!

Day 1: Monday, November 14th

Community Support: Who can pregnant and parenting students go to for life-affirming support? Who can they go to who will be kind, caring, and helpful? What can that person (or group) offer the student?

  • Your student group
  • Pro-life professor, staff, or administrator
  • Residence advisor
  • Pregnancy support advocate
  • Pregnancy resource center
  • Campus ministry
  • Campus counseling

Day 2: Tuesday, November 15th

Pregnancy Help: Where can you get free pregnancy tests and pregnancy options counseling? Who will support the student throughout her pregnancy?

  • Your student group
  • Campus health center
  • Local pregnancy resource center

Day 3: Wednesday, November 16th

Child Care: Where can students take care of their child? How can they go to school and take care of their baby?

  • Diaper changing stations
  • Lactation (Mother’s) rooms
  • Child care center
  • Student group babysitting services
  • Family study room

Day 4: Thursday, November 17th

Financial and Material Support: Who can pregnant and parenting students ask about financial assistance? Are there scholarships on campus for pregnant or parenting students? Where can students get free baby or maternity items?

  • Financial aid office
  • Your student group
  • Scholarship committee
  • Pregnancy resource center
  • Office of Family Resources

Day 5: Friday, November 18th

Academic Support: Who can tell a pregnant or parenting student about Title IX rights, school policies, and classroom accommodations? Who can help her find flexible class options?

  • Title IX Coordinator
  • Academic Support
  • Disability Services
  • Office of the Registrar

Day 6: Saturday, November 19th 

BONUS RESOURCES: What else does your school and community have to offer? Tell us about resources like:

  • Adoption support
  • STD Testing
  • Family housing on campus
  • Local maternity home
  • Family events
  • After abortion counseling

(Don’t forget! HASHTAG #ParentingStudents and TAG @PregnantOnCampus.)

Examples of Images

 

 

Everybody Gets a Diaper Deck!

Where it all began

babychangingstationsonline-comIn March 2015, we shared with you Ashton Kutcher’s campaign to increase support for dads. Ashton started a Change.org petition which received over 104,000 supporters. In the petition, he shared:

“As a new dad, I recently learned an unfortunate reality about changing diapers while out in public with a child. Almost all public changing tables are in women’s bathrooms, which makes it nearly impossible to find a table that’s accessible to dads. As crazy as it sounds, many stores don’t give dads the option to change their babies’ diapers. It’s 2015, families are diverse, and it is an injustice to assume it’s only a woman’s job to handle changing diapers. This assumption is gender stereotyping and companies should be supporting all parents that shop at their stores equally – no matter their gender. Changing tables in men’s rooms will be a tiny step in the long process of rectifying the legacy of gender discrimination, but it’s a step we need to take. Dads, like myself, want to participate equally in the child care process and our society should support that.”

The petition succeeded! It opened up a dialogue with Costco and Target to increase accessibility to these resources. Costco promised to provide Family Restroom options in new warehouses, and Target promised to include diaper changing stations (aka diaper decks) in women’s, men’s and family restrooms in new stores.

Government Action

Our politicians must have noticed this change in conversation. Representative David Cicilline introduced the BABIES Act on April 29, 2016. This act became law on October 10, 2016. Here’s what it provides:

Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation (BABIES) Act

This bill requires male and female restrooms in a public building to be equipped with baby changing facilities that the General Services Administration determines are physically safe, sanitary, and appropriate.

Such requirement shall be subject to any reasonable accommodations that may be made for individuals in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Such requirement shall be inapplicable to a restroom in a public building that: (1) is not available for public use, or (2) contains clear and conspicuous signage indicating where a male or female restroom is located within the same section or corridor of such building.

In a statement on his website, Rep. David Cicillline (sponsor) stated:

“Federal buildings are paid for by taxpayers, and it’s important to ensure that they are as open, as accessible, and as family-friendly as possible. With this new law now in effect, Social Security offices, Post Office buildings, and courthouses will be more accommodating for working moms and dads in Rhode Island and across the country.

I thank President Obama for moving swiftly to sign this commonsense proposal into law, and I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress for coming together to get the job done. This is how government should work to make commonsense reforms that make life easier for the people we serve.”

Prior to this law, there had been zero federal laws regarding diaper changing tables. Now to be clear, the BABIES Act will only impact bathrooms in government-owned or government-financed buildings (e.g. public libraries, court houses). But it is a first step toward reducing the indignity that parents frequently face when trying to care for their babies in bathroom stalls. However, we hope to see these actions set a positive example for our communities and local business owners.

Changing College Campuses

Thanks to this new legislation, we are already seeing a change on college campuses! This Wednesday (October 12th), University of New Mexico student leader, Sade Patterson, introduced her resolution to Associated Students of UNM senators to challenge the school to provide diaper changing stations in all public restrooms on campus. The resolution referenced New Mexico’s HB 538, a law which requires that “baby diaper-changing stations be equally available to men and women in restroom facilities in a place of public accommodation.” And with the recent passing of the BABIES Act, it is no surprise that this resolution passed.

sade-unm-proposal-passed

EVERYBODY GETS A DIAPER DECK

Let’s just say that our Pregnant on Campus team is a little (*okay, super) excited to see these changing attitudes and action sweeping the country on behalf of parents everywhere. We encourage your group to take up the charge as well by proposing new diaper changing stations for your school. See our activity guide here: Diaper Changing Stations.

Contact your SFLA Regional Coordinator for support and advice as you push forward your proposal.

oprah-you-get-a-diaper-deck

 

 

This post was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Director. If you would like to share your group success or a personal story, please contact Beth at brahal@studentsforlife.org

Read our previous post on this issue:

Ashton Kutcher’s Crusade