Parents Start Petition to Move University Village Day Care

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COLUMBIA - Parents with children who attend or have attended the day care at the University Village Apartments are petitioning MU to move its Student Parent Center to a safer location.

Kimberly Bodner, a doctoral psychology student at MU, started a petition Friday urging MU to relocate the child care center after she pulled her four-month-old son from attending. It reads, "We urge you to ensure that the Student Parent Center at University of Missouri continues to exist and is moved to a safe, accessible, on-campus location."

Though MU insists the structure is safe, Bodner's husband Christopher Engelhardt disagrees, "Our concerns at this point as parents is that the day care is still unsafe," he said. "Although engineers have erected wooden shoaring posts to facilitate the safety of the building, we're not convinced that's enough. Engineers can't see inside of the concrete."

MU hired THH Inc, an engineering consulting firm, to inspect all buildings owned or leased by MU following the fatal Feb. 22 walkway collapse at the complex. Last week, the Student Parent Center held a meeting concerning the safety of its facility, "What they told us at the parent meeting was that the building was safe," Engelhardt said. "So it was fine for children to go there again. And what they also mentioned was that the wooden posts were temporary and precautionary, not something that was necessary."

Engelhardt added the day care is imperative to students who use it, "Among some of the parents we talked to, they are in support of finding a temporary location for the center.  And certainly every parent, I would argue, would agree that the day care absolutely cannot shut down. It needs to be accessible for students in order for them to pursue their degrees and long-term goals."

Despite the petition, Engelhardt believes the university will listen to student parents' request, "We strongly believe that the university wants a safe building for its students and its children. And we feel this is a great opportunity for them to say, 'Yes, we hear your concerns. We're on board with you, we're going to find a solution to this problem.'"

The petition has gained more than 200 signatures in about 24 hours.