Letter: GEO calls for increased affordable child care for campus community

By Opinion & Editorial Staff

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Dear Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy,

With our “Child-In” action on Monday, November 27, we, as Graduate Employment Office (GEO) members and parents, would like to address concerns regarding the lack of affordable child care and spaces for nursing and pumping on campus. As many of us enter years of graduate school at the University of Massachusetts, the reconciliation of family and professional lives is one of the core issues affecting many graduate students, especially women. As there are currently 6,952 graduate students enrolled at the University who provide for the academic enrichment on this campus, children should be welcome and child-friendly spaces should be developed.

Women struggle to exist in all spaces. They struggle to combat presidents who objectify and make a mockery of the violence imposed on women’s bodies. They struggle for fair and comparable wages. They rail against the structural and systematic strains that confine them as students and mothers. Since women are primary caretakers, their choices translate to accessibility, which also translate to careers, and ultimately pay. This not only impacts how they provide for their children, but also how they achieve their own personal and academic goals.

As seen in the testimonies below, there are real-life consequences for graduate students with children. We therefore ask you, as the chancellor of UMass, to open the dialogue within the administration and the rest of our campus. How can the University make better arrangements for affordable childcare? How can the University make it possible to provide a space for women to nurse and pump in each building?

We also ask that you instruct your negotiators to bargain fairly with GEO. We support GEO’s contract demands and believe that our union’s demands (increased wages, improved health insurance, affordable housing, accessible and affordable child care, etc.) will ensure that parents can finish their degrees in a timely manner.

In Solidarity,

GEO members and their families