Roughly a dozen people came out to a forum last week for part-time, mature, and single parent students. Hosted by Krystal Kayne, BUSU Part-time/Mature Commissioner, it allowed students to voice their concerns, and brainstorm possible solutions.
At BU, part-time students are enrolled in fifteen credit hours or less each academic year. A mature student is over 21 years of age. These students often face different challenges than full-time students.
One of the reoccurring issues is the lack of available scholarships. “There’s two available for single parents, there’s two for people with disabilities,” says Kayne, adding “for mature students, [there are] up to seven. That’s a total of seven for 1250 students.”
“I was really happy to see that the university has 1.5 million dollars in scholarships and bursaries, but when you tally this amount up, it’s less than ten thousand dollars for over half the student body,” says Kayne. She points out many part-time students simply cannot afford to become full-time. With the limited amount of scholarships available to them, the financial burden can become overwhelming.
Also discussed at the forum were ideas for different family-friendly activities to be held on campus. “Some ideas that came up were orientation – having a more family event there, and inviting the kids of students, because it’s their experience as well,” says Kayne. “They want to know why their mom or dad is busy [late] at night with a paper. They want to feel involved too.”
Other ideas included a craft night, a toy drive at Christmas, and a holiday party where all the kids of students are invited.
Child care is another issue faced by many students. Kayne says the waiting list for daycares in Brandon is usually two to three years, leaving very few options for parents taking classes. “It’s the difference between coming to school or not,” she says, adding especially with night classes, with no other alternative, many students will bring their kids with them.
In one case, a student was late for an exam by a few minutes while finding child care. The instructor did not allow them to write. “They were told to go to disability services,” says Kayne. “Being a parent is not a disability.”
A meeting with BU administration is set to take place this week. Kayne hopes to discuss a number of these issues, including scholarships, the need for an on-campus daycare, and begin working towards solutions.
At the forum, a survey was also made available to students. Kayne says the responses will help them get a better understanding of the demographics on campus. Due to privacy laws, the university can only provide them with limited information. If there are enough people who self-identify as parents or mature students, it will be much easier for programming to be implemented.
“We’ve talked to Brandon Transit, and we can get a reduced rate for passes for children of students,” Kayne notes, “[but we] need to have a base amount in order to get [that rate].” For those who could not attend, copies of the survey are available in the BUSU office.
Kayne says there are already plans for another forum sometime in early April. She stresses they need to hear from students, not only to get a better idea of their numbers, but also for more ideas. “The more ideas, [the better] – no matter how outrageous! Some of the best ideas come from those outrageous things.” In addition to the survey, students can also contact Kayne directly at email@example.com.
Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 103, Issue 25, March 19, 2013.