Student senate pushes for parental leave at UNM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Some students at the University of New Mexico believe it should be policy that all new parents get at least six weeks off from school after their baby is born; so they passed a resolution.

UNM’s student government (ASUNM) passed the resolution Wednesday night. Now, it plans to present it to the administration before the end of the semester.

Sade Patterson, a graduating senior, said she was a sophomore at UNM when she gave birth to her now 2-year-old son.

“My due date was during finals week,” Patterson said. “I had to take one of my finals in the hospital bed because my teacher would not give me an extension.”

Now, Patterson said she’s trying to make sure what happened to her doesn’t happen to other students.

“I did face a lot of discrimination when I had my son,” she said. “My whole goal is to empower pregnant and parenting students to continue their education.”

Wednesday, ASUNM passed the resolution that will give mom’s and dad’s to-be the option of taking six weeks off from school when they have a baby. They would have to work with the professor to make up the work when they return or during the time of the leave. The resolution also states students won’t be in jeopardy of losing their scholarships or financial aid during the time off.

Patterson said she knows getting the administration to approve this policy will take time. She said she’s thought about all the issues that may come up including courses that are only eight weeks long.

Students KRQE News 13 spoke with like the idea; but also see the roadblocks the university will present.

“Some of the problems could be finals and making sure homework gets in on time,” Kaitlyn Read said. “I mean, what happens when students start slipping in their classes?”

Patterson said she tried to look at how other universities do this, but couldn’t find any so she drafted a policy with the help of other senators at the university. It’s one yet to be presented before the administration or Board of Regents.

“We need to be a voice for them and it’s my passion since I am a mother on campus,” Patterson said. “I feel like if we accommodate this demographic they’ll be more inclined to graduate.”

UNM said it currently follows Title IV rules which strive for gender equality in schools. It said it works with pregnant students and new moms to accommodate their needs but nothing similar to maternity leave.

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