A helping hand for student parents
June 22, 2016
When Lorne Beswick first took on the task of creating a parenting room at Queen’s University, he didn’t think that it would be something he would be using himself – at least not so quickly.
Shortly after he was re-elected as Vice-President (Campaigns and Community Affairs) for the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS), Mr. Beswick sought out projects within his portfolio that would benefit people around campus and could be completed during his one-year term, which ended on May 1.
What he quickly discovered was a need for a central space on campus for student parents to take care of their children while also continuing with their studies.
“It was basically what can I do in one year? I can’t cut people’s tuition in half and I can’t renegotiate anything huge but what I can do is fill a material need that just made sense,” says the PhD candidate in the Department of History. “I thought we could do this (parenting room) and it would be effective. It would be something, frankly, that many people could use. It’s open to all students.”
After a quick review of the spaces that were available, Mr. Beswick settled on Room 203 in the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC).
Not long after, he found out he would soon be a father. The new room would come in handy.
Opened in February, the parenting room is clean and bright and comes with a fridge and comfortable chair as well as a play table and a number of toys and activities for children. Importantly, there also is a diaper genie that hermetically seals used diapers for easy disposal, as well as a sink for clean-up. The space is safe, it’s quiet and it’s clean.
For Mr. Beswick, the idea was initially generated from discussions he had at student conferences. Having been a member of the Queen’s daycare board he saw a need and knew that it could be done.
While graduate students, particularly international students, are more likely to have families, the room is open to all students, both mothers and fathers.
Those interested in using the room can check in with the Student Life Centre Office. This is important, Mr. Beswick explains, as the SLC office is open from 8 am to midnight, allowing a greater range of use for the parenting room than if it was administered by the SGPS office which has fewer office hours.
Already, the room is seeing regular use and Mr. Beswick hopes that it continues to help student parents for years to come. He also hopes that more parenting rooms will be opened across campus.
“I don’t want this to be the first and last one,” he says. “I thought this was a great start but let’s keep this ball rolling.”