New bill could help pregnant students

A new bill which could be passed soon would help pregnant and parenting students on campus.

The amendment introduced by Congresswoman Repbulican Melissa Hart in the U.S. House of Representatives, or also known as the Elizabeth Katy Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act, would offer affordable on-campus childcare. It would also offer maternity coverage in their student health plans.

According to national figures from, 27 percent of all undergraduate students are parents and 34 percent of graduate students are parents.

Ash Rauckhorst, president of Resident Student Association, said it’s feasible to have family housing on campus. It would have an apartment-style bathroom, kitchen and more than one bedroom. Nothing has come through their department yet as to when these changes would take place, but there is so much off-campus housing options that it most likely won’t be offered.

Rauckhorst wonders if there’s a need because freshman and sophomore students who are married can live off campus.

“A lot of it has to do with demographics, we’re a school in a small town most students are on campus their freshman or sophomore years,” Rauckhorst said.

Rauckhorst said having the space to build family housing would be an issue.

Schools are encouraged to help fund assistance in locating and utilizing child care. Increasing the availability of family housing and flexible academic scheduling such as telecommuting programs, according to, but it also would give financial aid for women living independently from their parents.

Gina Tortorella, president of Falcons for Life, said the University isn’t helping pregnant and parenting students on campus. She wants to see a change to accommodate these students who have children or are pregnant.

“We don’t go out and actively support legislation, but we are trying to make a change on this campus,” Tortorella said.

Tortella said some students are forced to get an abortion because they can’t afford to have a child and balance going to college at the same time.

Falcons for Life is having a forum on Monday to discuss these issues, and are bringing in Sally Winn, vice president of Feminists for Life of America.

Tortorella hopes changes are made in vital areas involving caring for the pregnant student, such as financial aid. Tortorella said it’s one of the biggest things that keeps students from continuing schooling. Also housing is another issue, giving pregnant students options to live elsewhere other than the dorms.

Tortorella hopes to work with the Counseling Center and the Wellness Connection to give students other resources.

“There has always been two people involved and women are neglected. Women are exploited by abortion, we want to help them make the right choice,” Tortorella said.

Jenna Lake, president of Organization for Women’s Issues, said she would be willing to work with feminist organizations on campus to find a middle ground. According to Lake, there needs to be a greater amount of social support for prenant women. Women get little to no help in high school or college when they’re pregnant, and there needs to be social improvements on campus.

“There are some areas of convergence where all feminist belief overlap regardless of what the issues are,” Lake said.

According to Lake, even though campus organizations disagree on issues they would be willing to work on them.

Serrin Foster with the Feminists for Life organization said the legislation will give students better options when making the choice to give their child up for adoption.

“We’ve gotten creative ideas from other schools that have kept some things that we’ve suggested, ways to accommodate students through pregnancy and parenting and stay in school,” Foster said.

Some of the options are telecommuting and maternity coverage for students. Foster would like to see schools accommodate pregnant students by having a flip top desk that would allow pregnant students to enter and exit the desk more easily. Foster wants to see diaper decks in the bathrooms to accommodate changing diapers without having to run across the street or change the diaper on the floor.

Foster is looking for $10 million a year for 200 schools to get things started, but she wants to see schools have plans to continue this after they’ve started it.

“Women deserve better and fathers deserve better. The schools can do better as long as people say that it’s important to them to support parents who are going back to school or are in school and becoming parents,” Foster said.

Priscilla Coleman, associate professor of human development and family studies, said when women have an abortion they aren’t making a decision that is consistent with their heart, but feeling the pressures of trying to succeed in school and career.

Coleman said the University needs to offer medical coverage and practical support for students.

“The housing is basic and we have the structure to do that. There are apartments on campus, maybe converting some of the existing residences would be a good idea,” Coleman said.