Mothers on campus: Resources for parenting students

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first article in a series detailing the resources for mothers and parenting students on campus.

What to expect when you’re expecting—as a Marshall University student. With pregnancy and parenthood comes stress, certainly, but when combined with the stresses of college, it may become overwhelming. However, Marshall’s Women’s and Gender Center partners with campus and community resources and can provide assistance for pregnant women and parents-to-be.

Claire Snyder, program coordinator for the Women’s and Gender Center, said the center connects parenting students with childcare facilities and other resources, including Link Child Care, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The center also works with Mountain State Healthy Families, a home visiting family support agency, which is able to refer parents to home support and parental education. 

“We’re always happy to help pregnant or parenting students to access those resources; we know that it can be overwhelming to have to go through those logistics and all that paperwork, documentation, all of that,” Snyder said.

Breastfeeding rooms are located on the second floor of the Memorial Student Center, and Snyder said if students experience any issues, to come to the Women’s and Gender Center. 

“If there’s ever a student that has breastfeeding needs that are not met, maybe there are not breastfeeding rooms convenient to where they have to work or go to class, or they’re worried about having somewhere to store their breast milk, they can talk to us, and we can help them to figure out solutions for that,” Snyder said.

Other on campus resources are the Child Development Academy adjacent to campus and the MU Early Education STEAM Center, located in Corbly Hall. Link Child Care referral, based on income, can provide waivers of fees and help pay fees that parents would be responsible for otherwise.

“There are so many options for affordable childcare, especially for many students,” Snyder said. “They will qualify for Link Child Care support, which will help them to pay for childcare while they’re working or in school. And so there’s no reason why every child shouldn’t be able to be in a quality accredited childcare while their parents (are) working or in school.”

In some cases, students may have family members or friends who are able to take care of their children while they are at school, but Snyder said even if that is not the case, there are people willing to help. 

“We don’t ever want someone to feel like just because there’s not family close that they’re not still going to be able to continue their education,” she said.

Though there is no concept of maternity leave for students, Snyder said they can work closely with their professors to work out agreements. The Women’s and Gender Center, as well as Student Advocacy and Support, are two organizations willing to help students work out the best plan for them and their needs as a case-by-case basis.

“Any student that feels that they may need to withdraw, they can choose to take a medical withdrawal for that semester,” Snyder said. “If students don’t feel that they need to withdraw for the whole semester, but maybe they were experiencing nausea or something that kept them from attending classes, we don’t want students to feel that they have to drop the classes or that they can’t get back on track. We don’t want them to just kind of have their grades suffer for no reason. 

“Definitely reach out. Professors are very understanding. They want to help students; they want to support students. They’re generally very good at working with us to make sure that students can continue to be successful even if there has to be some sort of arrangement made to help them,” Snyder said. 

If parenting students experience postpartum depression or perinatal depression, Snyder said she recommends they visit Marshall’s Counseling Center.

“There are just so many things that if you don’t know and you don’t have somebody reaching out to you and making you aware of these things, that you might be under some unnecessary stress or facing challenges by yourself that you could be facing with support. 

“And so we just want students to know that there is always support and there are always people that can help them understand their options and what path forward is best for them.” 

Snyder shared her own experiences attending Marshall as an undergraduate, as well as graduate student, while being a parenting student. 

“I think for me, if I would have known better, I would have gone to see someone from the Women’s and Gender Center or would have gone to see somebody with a position like Michelle (Biggs), because most of the resources that I accessed, I just kind of figured out along the way,” Snyder said. “And I think that having someone to sort of help connect you and guide you would make a huge difference.”

Amanda Larch can be contacted at [email protected].