A Quiet Space for Nursing Mothers

By Robert Berman in News

Student Life officials plan to build a new “lactation location” in the southeastern part of Clark’s main campus.

The room would provide nursing women with a private space to breastfeed or pump milk. Students are allowed to publicly breastfeed on campus, but some women might not feel comfortable doing so, said Director of Student Life Sarah Gruhler.

Clark already has one such space at each campus. On the main campus, the Counselling and Health Center contains three available spaces, with one room dedicated to nursing women. The room contains a sink, a chair and an electrical outlet. Six people have used the room this academic year, visiting it 219 times, said Director of Student Health and Community Standards Tami Jacobs. All but three of those visits were from school employees.

The Counselling and Health Center is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Gruhler said four students approached her with complaints that the current space is inconvenient. According to her, sometimes students must excuse themselves from class to use the space. Walking up from Bauer Hall or Joan Stout Hall, setting up and walking back takes a lot of time out of their classes, she said.

One student told Gruhler, “I feel like I have to choose between being a mom and being a student.”

Gruhler submitted a request to Clark’s Space Allocation Committee to designate a space for the room in early spring quarter. The committee could not find space to repurpose for the room.

“The college is over-enrolled for the amount of square-footage available,” said Director of Facilities Services Tim Petta.

According to Petta, requests sent to space allocation include a source of funding. Usually funding comes from the department requesting the space. Gruhler did not identify a funding source, Petta said.

Gruhler said she will research possible spaces on her own. She and ASCC Vice President Gabrielle Roscher plan to walk through Joan Stout Hall in search of free or reusable space on June 3.

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