Being a student is stressful. Classes, homework, tests and club involvement can overwhelm a student’s day. However, for students who are also single parents, the days are even busier due to the demands of both school and childcare. While pursuing an education, student parents have to tackle childcare, managing finances and a stressful schedule alone. Student parents who share this experience deserve recognition from the UT administration through a program that fosters communication, allowing the University to become aware of the resources these parents need.
According to data gathered from the U.S. Department of Education, the population of single parents on southwest college campuses increased 67.5 percent from 2004 to 2012. They are an increasingly growing demographic on southwest campuses such as UT.
Molly Miller, a social work sophomore and single parent, said putting together a group would be helpful. Miller also said the administration should take the lead on this because single mothers and fathers lack the time and resources to start an organization on their own.
Currently, UT provides lactation rooms and some forms of childcare to support mothers and fathers, but these resources often go unnoticed or are impractical in terms of cost for the parents. If there was a program or organization dedicated to this cause, the administration could better hear the needs of single parents on campus and help implement useful changes.
Miller said many single parents, including herself, already find it difficult to fit a hectic class schedule, studying and school work between daycare hours which are from 7:15 a.m. and 6 p.m. As of 2015, only 31 percent of single mothers across the country were able to attain a bachelor’s degree. The University needs to take initiative and put together a program through which single parents can reach out to one another and the University about their needs. By doing this, the administration would become more aware of a growing demographic on campus and the issues they face when pursuing degrees.
“The school of social work has a child development center and they provide reduced cost for students but it’s still very expensive for us,” Miller said. “Free or even more reduced cost childcare is something I would definitely want the University to implement, but I don’t really know of a direct way to express my concerns.”
Creating an organization for single parents would help these parents to connect with one another and become more aware of the resources already provided by the campus. Miller said that the University has not done a good job advertising the resources they provide, such as the lactation rooms and childcare.
“I don’t even know where the lactation rooms are located, and it would be really helpful if there was just one group where we could go to in order to find information. It doesn’t even have to be single parents, but even at least a group for parents, in general, would be helpful,” Miller said.
UT strives to accommodate non-traditional students, so a group through which student parents could communicate with the University officials and each other would provide better access to the resources that are already here as well as help to implement future changes. More importantly, this group would allow students who are single parents to have a better, more supportive campus experience — something all students deserve.
Sanika Nayak is a communication sciences and disorders freshman from Austin.