UNA adds second lactation room to campus

by News Editor Anna Brown

University officials added a new area for nursing mothers to breast-feed their children last week.

The existing family restroom on the second floor of the Guillot University Center is now equipped with a chair so a mother can breast-feed her child comfortably.

“We looked in this building and we knew we had the family restroom (already here),” said Vice President for Student Affairs David Shields. “We (also) knew we had our hours open and it’s a very public place. There’s a lot of things there that would support a nursing mom.”

While the family restroom already had a changing table, but there was no comfortable place for a mother to breast-feed her child, he said.

The request to add another lactation room came to the Shared Governance Executive Committee through the Faculty Senate, Shields said.

“Lactation is not just faculty, but a staff and student issue,” said Faculty Senate President Sarah Franklin. “We put the request through Shared Governance and it worked beautifully. We already had (a lactation room) on campus. The Center for Women’s Studies really took the lead on that issue a few years ago. The rest of us have followed suit and gone through with that.”

She said the request came from a faculty member. It likely came from a student who mentioned it to a faculty member.

The Center for Women’s Studies has a lactation room nursing mothers can use, but it closes at 4 p.m. on weekdays. Shields said having the lactation room in the GUC, which closes at 11 p.m., gives women another place to nurse their child in the evenings.

“I think that’s a great idea,” said Center for Women’s Studies Coordinator Emily Kelley. “I’m delighted that they have opened up another area in a much more central location.”

Like the other family (gender-neutral) restrooms on campus, the room has a deadbolt lock and a changing table.

Shields said adding the chair to the family restroom aligns with SGA’s efforts to create family-friendly, gender-neutral restrooms for students and visitors.

“I think it’s vital that they make these accommodations for women because they’re not making them just for women,” Kelley said. “By accommodating nursing mothers, they’re making these accommodations for families, really. This is not just a women’s issue. This is a family issue.” Alumna Lauren Tobin said she is glad UNA now has a lactation room and changing tables on campus for families and students with children. Tobin said she had a child while in college and wished there were more accommodations for her on campus.

“It’s hard to pump between classes, feed your child or change diapers on campus,” Tobin said. “There (was) not a single changing table on the campus of UNA (when I was a student), and I’ve had to change my child’s diaper in the lobby of the Communications Building. That was uncomfortable for everyone.”

Kelley said nursing mothers can refrigerate their milk at the Center for Women’s Studies. Mothers may contact Kelley for more information about lactation services.

“All of us worked,” Shields said. “The faculty senate was very helpful in forwarding it on. The shared governance executive committee was very helpful in making contacts needed. We were all very, very happy that we could find something so quickly. ”

Shields said Shared Governance received the request at the beginning of October and a chair was in place by the week of Oct. 18.

Shields said the Shared Governance Committee hopes to find a few more locations by the end of the semester.

“We are continuing to look for some additional spaces on campus,” Shields said. “Two is wonderful, but it’s not enough.”