We did it! New resources now available for parenting students at Northwestern

We did it!

After years of lobbying Northwestern for better resources, we are finally starting to see results! Northwestern recently announced new programs for parenting students including paid family leave, child care subsidies, more lactation rooms and a dedicated staff member to help students find the resources they need. Here are the details:

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NU forms task force on grad students with children

On Oct. 1, 2015, Northwestern announced the formation of a new task force to investigate the problems faced by graduate students with children at Northwestern. In the press release, Provost Dan Linzer thanked the Student Parent Alliance for our work on the issue. Administrators decided to form the task force after hearing a presentation from the Student Parent Alliance in April.

Unfortunately, the Student Parent Alliance has not been allowed to appoint our own representative to this task force, despite repeated requests. Although the SPA submitted a list of suggestions for task force members in May, which included a representative from the Women’s Center, those suggestions were ignored. The task force does not include any of the student leaders who prepared for the April 2 meeting or who worked on the report, which is one of the founding documents of the new task force. We are concerned that the knowledge gained over the last year and a half will be lost.

Nonetheless, we recognize that this task force is the best chance that we have to actually address some of the concerns that parenting students have been raising for many years. While we think it would be more effective if student leaders who have been working on this issue were included, we hope the task force is successful. The lives and well-being of grad students, their spouses and children are at stake.

April 2 Meeting with Provost and NU admins

On April 2, several members of the NU Student Parent Alliance met with the Provost and other senior-level administrators. We made our case for improved resources for grad students with children, including child care and financial support, inclusive paid parental leave, more lactation rooms and better communication and education about grad student parents’ rights and benefits. We also delivered a 75-page report outlining the details of the need, as well as our recommended solutions. This report is based on the testimonies we have collected, and the  survey results from GLAC. Thank you to everyone who shared your experiences with us. We hope to hear back from the administration by the end of Spring quarter with a plan for how these issues can be addressed.

Press Release: Student Parent Alliance Response to NU Work-Life Balance Award

We are happy to learn that Northwestern has been awarded a Seal of Distinction from the World at Work Alliance for Work-Life Progress for its improved policies for faculty and staff, including paid parental leave and adoption support. However, we remain disappointed that these benefits are not being extended to all members of the Northwestern community, particularly to graduate students.

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Article in The Huffington Post

One of our members, Robin Hoecker, recently wrote an article for The Huffington Post entitled, “Let’s make universities accessible to nursing mothers.” Since the article went live, we have been receiving stories from women across the country who have faced similar frustrations with the lack of spaces to pump breast milk on campus. Like many of our issues, this is much bigger than Northwestern. However,  NU does have the opportunity to be a leader in its response, and make campus accessible to all students, including nursing mothers.

Press release: Let’s make family leave available to all university families

Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015
We are thrilled at Northwestern’s recent announcement to expand parental leave for staff members at the university. Now mothers, fathers, adoptive parents and same sex partners of staff members are able to take 10-12 weeks paid leave to care for and bond with their children. This is a huge step towards gender equality and inclusivity of same sex partnerships. However, we are extremely disappointed that these benefits are not being extended to graduate students.

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Momentum is building!

Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014 
Good news!We have gotten more than 700 page views and collected dozens of testimonies since the site went live last week! Thanks to everyone who is spreading the word!

Meeting with TGS administrators set for Dec. 12

Monday, Dec. 8, 2014
Several of the organizers of the Student Parent Alliance will be meeting with Dean McBride and other administrators at The Graduate School on December 12. We will be presenting student testimonies about their experiences as student parents. If you would like to share your thoughts, experiences and suggestions, please e-mail them to us at We will keep the testimonies anonymous, so please don’t hesitate to be candid. Thanks again for your support!


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