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MU women's committee requests lactation rooms in renovated buildings

Tuesday, December 7, 2010 | 5:07 p.m. CST
MU offers a variety of on-campus locations where mothers may privately breast-feed their children. Each of the buildings labeled includes at least one quiet space made to accommodate women who are nursing. Different amenities are offered at each location, such as refrigerators, lockable doors and privacy curtains. Exact room numbers can be found at equity.missouri.edu/learn/lactation-areas.php.

COLUMBIA — As campus construction continues, some MU faculty and staff have raised a question about installing lactation rooms during renovations.

The Status of Women Committee wrote a letter to Deputy Chancellor Michael Middleton asking whether MU was planning to include lactation rooms as part of renovations — in Tate and Switzler halls in particular.

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Middleton said the request is "reasonable and legitimate" and that it is important for all employees to be accommodated.

Currently, 10 lactation stations are open on campus. A list of the locations and amenities in each center can be found on the MU Equity website. The rooms vary in terms of amenities and privacy.

For this request to be approved, Middleton said, it will first go to Campus Facilities, where a recommendation will be made. Then Chancellor Brady Deaton will make the final decision about whether or not to include lactation rooms in future renovations.

"Whenever a request is made, we work to provide some kind of accommodation," Middleton said. "The university will try their best to accommodate the request to the extent that it is possible and financially reasonable."

Middleton said that, in a perfect world, there would be such a room in every building.

"There are competing needs for classrooms and offices, though, so it becomes a matter of balancing needs," he said.

Middleton forwarded the request to Jacquelyn Jones, vice chancellor for administrative services, who oversees Campus Facilities.

Jones said in an e-mail that her office will do an initial review of the request and then determine whether committees should provide input. After considering the feasibility of the request in terms of cost, space usage issues and funding, the office will make a recommendation.

Jones said she was unsure when an assessment would be completed.

Karlan Seville, spokeswoman for Campus Facilities, said that she wasn’t aware of any plans for new lactation rooms on campus but that there are options available for nursing mothers on campus.

“I know that when (the Bond) Life Sciences (Center) opened, they put a lactation room in there, and it was for anyone on campus that wanted to use it,” she said. “Other than that, I know that departments are encouraged to make accommodations for women who want to breast-feed or use a breast pump in their buildings.”

Although she does not know the degree of use of the existing lactation rooms, Ellen McLain, co-chairwoman of the Status of Women Committee, said that it is still important that these facilities be available.

“It’s important that people have access to these rooms because it’s very important for moms to bond with their babies, and when babies are nursed, they don’t get sick as often,” she said. “It’s also awfully good for the mom’s health, too.”

McLain said the committee's next step is to learn more about construction policies on campus and see how they they apply to making renovation requests.

In the meantime, the committee hopes to bring awareness to the issue and let mothers know where the current rooms are.

"I think we just need to educate people about where they can go," she said.


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