New lactation room empowers child policy revision

By Allison Kirk l Herald Contributor

On the first day of classes, RWU’s new lactation room in Global Heritage Hall 113 opened for nursing mothers. The room is not just for faculty, but for all university staff. 

“I’m really proud of it, I’m proud that we can do that for people.” Associate Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Education Jeffery Meriwether explained. 

The lactation room was suggested by another faculty member. Meriwether explained looking back, the university didn’t consider having one before. 

Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, Ame Lambert, explains there is a larger context. Lambert spoke about how the institutional women’s affinity group has been advocating for policy and practice changes in support of women on campus.

“What you’re seeing campus wide is more initiative that speaks to the elevating of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, one of which is support for working parents with children,” Lambert said.

RWU’s child policy, which was last updated in 2003, states that children cannot come onto campus during their parent’s work schedules. 

This policy is currently under revision, Lambert explained, and the updates version will likely be released within two weeks. Additionally, there were child care surveys sent out to the entire campus, informing people of the policy update. 

“You have to give a lot of credit to the women in the affinity group and kind of just the way they’ve moved and impacted campus culture,” Lambert said. “I also have to give credit to President Miaoulis, who came in and listened.”

The old policy was created to address the challenge of people bringing children to campus and leaving them with their assistants for an extended period of time. 

“Everyone on campus recognizes that old policy is a debunked policy,” Lambert said.

Many of the parents who work on campus are concerned about the old policy, such as Lindsey Gumb, a faculty member working as an instructional technology librarian.

“I’d say as a parent and a Roger Williams community member, the policy as it stands is kind of hurtful,” Gumb said.

Sometimes, parents like Gumb come across issues with finding child care. She explained she would never bring her child to work when she needs to get work done, but there are situations when it’s hard to get child care right away in the morning. 

For now, the policy remains the same until the new revision comes out.