DeVeber Institute highlights University of Toronto campus pregnancy resources
Genevieve Bonomi, an intern at the deVeber Institue for Bioethics and Social Research, has praised UofT’s campus pregnancy resources:
Throughout Canada, thousands of young people attend University who are aged 19 to 24. This group is also the largest age cohort of women having abortions. The deVeber Institute is researching the resources available to pregnant and parenting students on university campuses in order to better understand some of the reasons that may be behind this statistical flux.
Preliminary results reveal that the majority of schools in our country are lacking services. Often the resources are not available, or are not made known to students who need them. Of all Canadian universities, the University of Toronto was the only university to offer all of the following:
- Pregnancy counselling for adoption and birth options as well as for struggling parents
- On campus housing for families attending university, with priority to single parents
- Numerous on-campus day care facilities as well as child co-ops with student discounts and subsidies available
- A babysitting referral service
- Loans, bursaries and scholarships specifically for parenting students which are made clear to students
- Academic leave for a semester
- Private designated areas for women to breast feed on campus
- Parenting students are given priority in work study positions
- On campus food and clothing bank for students
- Residence services that help students find affordable off campus housing
- Wheelchair and stroller accessible buildings
- Flexible class times as well as evening and weekend classes/ distance classes via internet to make courses easy for parenting students
[Full disclosure: I’ve been doing some website work for the deVeber Institute, but I’m not involved with any of the research they’re doing.]
It’s great that UofT has these resources available, but I think there are still major challenges. First of all, I’ve heard complaints about day care facilities at the Mississauga/Scarborough campuses before, not from reputable sources (and certainly not ones I can cite), but it would be nice to know how resources differ from campus to campus. Second, it’s important and necessary for these resources to be available, but the next challenge is making sure that students know they are available. If a women still feels like she has to choose between her unborn child and her education, then we aren’t doing our job to support her.
It sounds like the deVeber Institute’s research is just beginning here. I look forward to seeing the results at the end of the summer. We’re lucky to have these resources at UofT — let’s make sure students know they are available!