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St. John's University Call for Childcare Service

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President Harrington: In May 1996, the administration of St. John’s authorized a Task Force to conduct a University-wide study into the need and plausibility of establishing a daycare facility on campus. However, as evinced by the clear lack of any St. John’s-run or sponsored child care service, despite the Task Force’s positive recommendation, the University has not followed through on this necessary project. We would like to propose that this issue be re-opened for discussion at St. John’s, and action be taken to provide child care service, because ultimately, this is an issue of gender discrimination. Currently, there is an incredibly large, though unknown, number of faculty, administration, staff, and students on campus who have young children. Caring for children is a time-consuming, if rewarding, task that takes one’s attention away from his (but usually her) work toward the good of themselves and our community. Providing a daycare facility on campus would allow parents to “devote themselves more freely to their studies” and work, and would be in line with the St. John’s Catholic and Vincentian mission by institutionally supporting families and the education and development of children, according to that 1996 Task Force Preliminary Report. The inhibition that childcare poses to academic study and pursuit of career can be detrimental to a parent’s ability to reach his or her full potential, to find fulfilling work or activities, and to contribute meaningfully to his or her community. And, due to generally practiced societal gender roles, despite a greater equalization of the sexes in recent decades, childcare often becomes the responsibility of the mother. So, by failing to provide an affordable and accessible daycare option, on or immediately off campus, St. John’s is also failing to uphold gender equality in access to education and career options. The 1996 Task Force’s Needs Assessment Survey found that, of two hundred and sixty three Queens-campus respondents, composed of faculty, administrators, staff, undergraduate students, graduate students, and evening/weekend students, at that time there was a need for a daycare service at St. John’s. Thirty-eight percent responded that they were “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with their child care arrangements, and eighty-two percent said that it was “difficult” or “very difficult” to find child care arrangements. In addition, in order of frequency, respondents said that lack of child care created problems with: missing work, bringing children to school, missing class, quitting work or reducing hours, and quitting school or reducing course load. While these statistics are almost sixteen years old, the problems they represent still face parents within our St. John’s community on a daily basis. We are calling upon the administration to look at this convincing data, conduct new studies based on our current school demographics, and finally take action to rectify this longstanding issue. A daycare facility on campus would be a learning opportunity for education, psychology, sociology students, a service opportunity for student organizations, a job opportunity for many eager student workers with looming loans, and a relief to the many of our campus community with the responsibility of children. Sincerely, 

St. John’s Childcare Advocacy Coalition 
and the Undersigned


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