MU Student Parents Voice Concerns About Child Care

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COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri's Graduate Professional Council held an open forum Wednesday for graduate students to voice their concerns about future childcare. It comes after a walkway collapsed at the University Village Apartments February 22. Since the collapse, MU announced its plans to demolish the complex's Student Parent Center.

The news media was barred from attending the meeting.Jake Wright, president of the Graduate Professional Council, told KOMU 8 News it was to ensure all students felt comfortable to voice their opinion.

"We want to be sensitive to international students who may have come from a culture where the media isn't viewed as sort of an independent organization and make them feel comfortable and able to contribute as well," he said.

Graduate students with and without children attended the meeting. Naomi Clark, president of The Association of Parenting Students, said she is displeased with how the university has treated student parents.

The university announced it will demolish the Student Parent Center June 30. MU did not announce a new childcare facility would be built in its place.

In a news release March 12, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said, "Going forward, I will ask representatives from student, faculty and staff groups to consider the feasibility of continuing to offer child care on campus for the children of students, faculty and staff."

Clark said if MU does not decide to build another daycare, it will bar many students from being able to attend MU.

"I think the closing of the student parent center makes it visible how much of an access issue this is for so many parenting students. Without reliable daycare, our studies are put on hold or are seriously threatened," Clark said.

Gene Chuang is a doctoral student parent studying counseling psychology. Chuang and his wife took their infant son out of the Student Parent Center following the collapse, but he said it has been increasingly difficult for his family. Chuang said he had to postpone graduating because his son no longer has childcare.

"Since this happened, I have to extend my study for one more year, I have to extend my visa, I have to spend time finding daycare instead of doing my research. This is hard for us," he said.

The Graduate Professional Council and the Association of Parenting Students said they hope MU will take their concerns into consideration. The Graduate Professional Council will be hosting another open forum for graduate students Thursday from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Stotler Lounge in Memorial Union to address students' housing needs.