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April 3, 2012 12:00 am

Why St. Mary’s Should Offer On-Campus Daycare

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How many times has this happened to you? You arrive in class, and sit down among your classmates ready for today’s lecture. Ten minutes go by. Then, perhaps, another ten. There’s mumbling among your classmates about whether they can just leave, since it appears class is cancelled. At the last minute, your professor arrives, clearly flustered. They apologize for the lateness, and explain that at the last minute their babysitter cancelled. I can guarantee, we have all seen it.

Although I am sure many of you wished class had been cancelled, I wonder if the lack of daycare services available for our flustered professors concerns anyone other than me.  And for that matter, what about our grounds and housekeeping staff, who get up at the crack of dawn to do so much for us, but may not be able to afford the daycare services in St. Mary’s County?

St. Mary’s prides itself for being a community of compassionate individuals and yet we do not offer a fundamental service for the individuals in our community who have children. We are rated in the top 100 as one of the best colleges in America, and yet we are one of the few that do not have a daycare on campus. According to the Education Department website, most community colleges in the state of Maryland have a day care service.

St. Mary’s can compete academically and athletically with Frostburg, Towson, and the University of Maryland, but when it comes to daycare services, we are not even a blimp on the radar.

This isn’t a new concern. Efforts have been made in the past few years by concerned faculty to create a daycare on campus, but the financial and legal barriers standing in the way have been immense. Concerns such as, “who would run it, where would we put it, and how much would it cost to maintain it,” are all valid, but only result in circular arguments surrounding the budget. But wouldn’t it be worth it? Wouldn’t our money be better spent providing a place for the children of our faculty and staff to be taken care of than other things such as providing a new lawn for LQ? Without student support, the conversation about a day care on campus will remain circular, so I feel it’s time someone spoke up.

Not having a day care on campus has deterred individuals with children from applying here, as I have known people personally who would have loved to be a part of the St. Mary’s community, but simply could not afford to leave their children in the one day care center off of Route 5 that didn’t look like a terrifying excuse for a motel.

Think about it. Assuming we somehow made room in the budget and found a place up to code, wouldn’t a daycare on campus be beneficial for everyone? Besides providing a service for the students, staff, and faculty with children, it could potentially create student jobs, a place for MAT undergraduates to get experience working in a classroom setting, and provide opportunities for those interested in psychology and education.

Just something to think about.

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