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ASU pregnant and parenting students utilize resources, balance classes

The University offers several resources, such as lactation rooms and childcare to help students who are pregnant or parenting

ASU human and family development senior Cassie Mortensen poses for a photo in her eighth month of pregnancy in Chandler, Arizona on Sunday, March 19, 2017. 

ASU human and family development senior Cassie Mortensen poses for a photo in her eighth month of pregnancy in Chandler, Arizona on Sunday, March 19, 2017. 

ASU provides several resources catering to pregnant or parenting students so that they can continue their education.

The existence of such resources is echoed by the rights pregnant students have under Title IX, a national statute which says educational institutions cannot discriminate against pregnant students.

“Pregnant students are entitled to academic accommodations so that they can return to the same academic status as before the pregnancy,” according to an ASU University statement.

The University statement also said pregnant students who believe they will need university accommodations should contact the Disability Resource Center because they will work with the students to discuss what they need.

Some of the possible accommodations include excused absences, allowance for frequent trips to the bathroom, opportunities to make up missed work and approval of Medical and Compassionate Withdrawals, according to the University Statement.

The statement also said ASU Family Resources provides students information about child care services, new parent resources and special housing.

Cassie Mortensen, a senior studying human and family development, is pregnant with a baby girl who she said is due on April 20. She said she found out she was pregnant in August 2016. 

Mortensen said she made the decision to push her graduation date back in order to have more time to prepare for the birth of her child.

With the baby due in April, Mortensen said she chose to take only A session classes this semester, so she could have B session off to get ready for the baby. She will graduate in December instead of this May.

“My counselor was super nice when I talked to her about graduation,” she said. “But I was almost done, so it was like there was almost nothing for them to do except say ‘okay, keep going.’ There wasn’t a lot for them to do because I only had a few classes left.”

“It was kind of a surprise, but I mean not completely,” she said. “We (Cassie and her husband) weren’t wanting a baby this soon, but we want one. My plan was to wait until I graduated which was supposed to be in May, but I moved it back.”

Mortensen said she was taking a lot more in-person classes before, but when she found out she was pregnant, she dropped some in-person classes in order to balance out her priorities.

“It’s really hard, a lot harder than I thought,” she said. “It’s hard when you feel really sick or exhausted from being pregnant.”

Mortensen said she was able to manage her responsibilities because she started taking more online classes because of morning sickness and scheduling doctor’s appointments.

She also said she highly recommends the 8-week classes to other pregnant students.

“You can get more classes done in a shorter amount of time,” she said. “Then you (don’t) have to be like having your baby and taking a million classes.”

Mariah Martinez, a junior studying psychology, is in charge of the Pregnant on Campus initiative through Students for Life, a pro-life organization at ASU.

Martinez said ASU offers childcare for children ages one to five so parents can have their kids on campus while they are taking classes.

“Also, there is one lactation room on the Tempe campus on the second floor of the Memorial Union,” she said. “So people can reserve that if they need to pump their breast milk.”

Maureen Duane, the program coordinator from ASU Family Resources, said AFR provides resources and referral services for on- and off-campus child care and emergency or sick child care.

“As an example of wellness and sustainability, students are able to continue breastfeeding by having a place to pump upon returning to school,” she said.

Duane said AFR also provides the resources to find scholarships and child care financial assistance such as the Sun Devil Child Care Subsidy program.

“On-campus child care had been looked at for many years, and a survey conducted back in 1988 resulted in recommendations to hire a designated staff member to address these issues,” she said.

Duane said AFR itself was created in 1989, and it has served students and faculty under the Educational Outreach and Student Services.

Martinez said the goal of Pregnant on Campus is to connect pregnant students to on-campus resources and off-campus resources. 

Martinez said the initiative seeks to help pregnant students find some of the off-campus resources such as pregnancy classes, pregnancy resource centers that are federally qualified and locations where pregnant students can get prenatal care. She said that if pregnant women on campus do not have insurance, the initiative will help them find comprehensive but low-cost prenatal packages.

“It’s good to know exactly where you need to go first to start looking up stuff,” she said. “So Pregnant on Campus is really like a pregnancy encyclopedia for ASU students.”

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