Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022
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University adopts Title IX policy for pregnant and parenting students

Public+relations+senior+Kaylee+Gustin+holds+her+son%2C+Aiden%2C+on+campus+on+Saturday.+%E2%80%9C%28Before+I+was+a+parent%29%2C+I+would+sleep+in+until+20+minutes+before+my+class+and+I+would+run+down+here+and+do+the+bare+minimum%2C%E2%80%9D+Gustin+said.+%E2%80%9CNow%2C+I+have+to+make+the+best+grades+possible+because+we%E2%80%99re+trying+to+build+this+future+and+our+money+depends+on+it.%E2%80%9D
Naina Srivastava
Public relations senior Kaylee Gustin holds her son, Aiden, on campus on Saturday. “(Before I was a parent), I would sleep in until 20 minutes before my class and I would run down here and do the bare minimum,” Gustin said. “Now, I have to make the best grades possible because we’re trying to build this future and our money depends on it.”

Kaylee Gustin wakes up every day at 3 a.m. to feed her 10-month-old. She makes him a bottle, changes his diaper and rocks him until he falls asleep an hour later. When they wake again in the morning, Gustin crams material for her classes as the two get ready.

As a student parent, public relations senior Gustin said her life looks very different than traditional students. Balancing school with her child’s needs can mean skipping if he’s sick or scheduling classes to fit into his daycare schedule.

On Jan. 15, the University adopted HOP 3-3021, a policy that prevents discrimination against pregnant and parenting students. Previously, no dedicated policy for pregnant and parenting students existed. 


“(The policy) makes it more clear of all the rights that pregnant and parenting students have and how we can support them if they have a need so that they are able to address whatever situation may be going on and continue to be a student here,” Title IX Coordinator Adriana Alicea-Rodriguez said.

The policy’s changes include a leave of absence that would allow student parents to return to the University without needing to reapply and a designated student-parent liaison to help student parents find resources. It also allows pregnant and parenting students to register for courses early, which the University implemented last semester.

 

“We’ve got one campus liaison, which is part of the law too. But for a university this big … more than one liaison would be great,” Gustin said. “We can do better than that.”

 

Alicea-Rodriguez said the Title IX office has already seen an increase in the number of pregnant and parenting students contacting them. She said 78 students have worked with the office this academic year, compared to 62 students last year. Alicea-Rodriguez said the office has also seen more pregnant students proactively reaching out about accommodations.

 

However, Gustin said the University still has a long way to go to better support pregnant and parenting students. 

 

Gustin said she attended the University for four years before leaving to take care of her sick mom in 2016. After learning her financial aid maxed out, Gustin said she spent the following seven years working and saving up to finish her degree. By the time she could afford to return to UT, she had a son.

 

As a full-time student, finding childcare and housing posed a challenge for Gustin. She said she ended up moving in with her family in Round Rock and finding a daycare nearby for her son.

 

Gustin said the waitlist for the on-campus daycare was multiple years long when they tried to obtain child care. She also said the center prioritized faculty over student parents, and the high costs made the service inaccessible. 

 

Gustin and others in the Student Parent Organization suggested the University create a dedicated space for parenting students. She said she’s had positive experiences with the Title IX office and said the staff have been helpful with academic accommodations. 

 

“They’ve just been right there every time I needed it,” Gustin said. “They’re very passionate about what they do, and they make the best out of what they have. They really go out of their way to make you feel supported, and they’re very quick about it.”

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