Mothers not welcome no. 553

I have currently got some temporary work in a British university (which for obvious reasons had better remain nameless). The student newspaper was running a story recently about the problems of students who were mothers and the following are some extracts:

XXX, a 20-year old student at [university] was told that there was up to a two-year waiting list for the [university] nursery

When asked about the issue, XXX, dean of students, acknowledged the need to provide childcare for students, but said it wasn’t top of their list of priorities.

He said: “All colleges are crying out for additional space, some would argue why this precious space (nursery) is being taken up at [college site].

“Childcare is incredibly important for some students, but I don’t think nursery provisions is necessarily the best way to deal with it. It’s hugely expensive”, he added.

There are 3,820 staff members and 18,052 students at [university], but only 34 places in the university day nursery.

The complacency of the (male) dean is breathtaking: even the current inadequate provision seems almost too much for him, and he noticeably isn’t interested in suggesting any alternatives. The message seems clear: as the cover-line of the newspaper puts it: ‘Mums need not apply’.

This article particularly wound me up because the university had just been making an enormous fuss about a ‘diversity event’ the same week, including individual mail-outs to all staff. There is a lot of stress in the university generally on inclusivity, with regular workshops on disability awareness, a new working group to counter homophobia etc. Black or white, gay or straight, able-bodies or with disabilities, my university wants you: just as long as you don’t have inconvenient children in tow.

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