New College policy a ‘step forward’ – SU student parent officer

news1“The introduction of this policy is another step forward in recognising the needs of student parents, carers and pregnant students,” Lynn Ruane, SU student parent officer, commented in response to the ‘College Supports for Student Parents, Student Carers and Students Experiencing Pregnancy’ policy due to be launched next week.

The policy includes provisions such as the early availability of timetable information, between one and three months before the start of term “to facilitate timely arrangements for caring.”

Its guidelines, according to the Equality Office, aim to strengthen College’s “provision for, and commitment to, students…who have parental or caring responsibilities or experience pregnancy at any point during their time in College.” In addition, it outlines the roles and responsibilities of College staff in responding to the needs of pregnant students, student carers and student parents. This includes, “responding sensitively, non-judgmentally and promptly to any student who is facing a particular challenge with pregnancy, parental or caring responsibilities.”

The new policy states that: “College believes that being or becoming responsible for a child or dependent adult should not, in itself, be a barrier to a student succeeding in, or completing a programme of study.” Furthermore, “College will support students by taking a flexible and reasonable approach to attendance and assignment deadlines, while ensuring academic standards are achieved.”

While Ruane welcomes the policy, she is keen to ensure that students are aware of the new guidelines. “The main issue for me is that the policy will sit on a shelf and not be brought to life,” she told Trinity News today. As a result, she has organised several workshops over the coming months with the groups affected by the new policy. The workshops will outline the details of the policy and how it can be implemented to support student parents, student carers and students experiencing pregnancy during their time in college. Ruane hopes that after the policy launch and  the workshops these students “will feel familiar enough with the policy to use it.”

Ruane commended the ongoing support of the Equality Office regarding the situation for student parents in Trinity College, commenting that “the equality officer, Luke Field, has been very supportive to date in engaging with us regarding both the launch next week and how we can ensure the policy is relevant and useful to student parents.”

The new policy outlines the steps for undergraduate and postgraduate students in approaching their School and making arrangements in order to balance course requirements and carers responsibilities.

The policy will be officially launched next Wednesday, February 4th, in the Uí Chadhain Theatre at 4pm and is open to all members of the College community. Speakers will include a student parent, a student carer and a student who experienced pregnancy in college.

Photo: Kevin O’Rourke