It is disheartening to know that anyone feels invisible in a community that usually thrives on inclusion and networking through various campus events and clubs. Personally, I hadn’t realized that there were students on campus who were struggling with raising children while studying at university. Finding a viable solution that can fix the issue is a priority in order to help students who are trying to handle being both full-time parents and full-time students.
Childcare services are already overburdened at the university. While this problem is being sorted out, one solution might be to offer parents additional structural support through the accessibility services provided at each U of T campus, in order to make it easier to take time off and care for children. The statement found on the Accessibility Services web page claims that “It is the University of Toronto’s goal to create a community that is inclusive…and treats all members…in an equitable manner.” Although having a disability and having a child to care for are fundamentally different circumstances, the stressors experienced by people in both situations might be similar. For example, students in both these positions might struggle to juggle essays and assignments with childcare or personal health responsibilities.
In Ontario, a maximum of 63 weeks of parental leave is granted to individuals who have children. But university terms continue on whether you have to care for a child or not. The only options new parents have are to try and balance childcare responsibilities with schoolwork, or to postpone their educations altogether. With this in mind, students with children should be given more support from the university so that they aren’t forced to put their degrees on hold.
Areej Rodrigo is a third-year student at St. Michael’s College studying English and Theatre and Performance Studies.