Graduate student government group advocates for University child care centers

Professional and graduate students are responding to the closure with a resolution that will be presented on Feb. 26.

<p>Parents and children from the University Child Development Center gather around Vice President of University Relations Matt Kramer in University President Eric Kaler's office in Morrill Hall on Thursday, Feb. 8.</p>

Eliana Schreiber

Parents and children from the University Child Development Center gather around Vice President of University Relations Matt Kramer in University President Eric Kaler's office in Morrill Hall on Thursday, Feb. 8.

Maraya King

Instead of engaging in marches and protests, the University of Minnesota’s Council of Graduate Students decided to advocate to keep on-campus child care through a written resolution.

In late January, after the University announced its decision to close one child care center and drastically cut funding for two others in 2019, COGS decided to draft a resolution calling for action, which will be given to administration in the coming weeks.

The biggest impact of the University’s decision was caused by the closure of the University’s 43-year-old Child Development Center, which cares for 140 children.

Jonathan Borowsky, COGS chief of staff, said the first part of the resolution outlines a need for an increase in the current number of day care spots on campus.

“We should not be closing the CDC, we should be doubling it,” Borowsky said.

Secondly, the resolution called for the higher levels of University administration to be responsible for on-campus child care.

“Make it somebody’s job to oversee all of the day care service provisions because right now, that responsibility is split up in a really illogical way,” Borowsky said.

Currently, the CDC is funded and overseen by the College of Education and Human Development.

The Community Child Care Center and the Como Early Learning Center, two University-funded day cares, will also be affected by the new funding capacity. Both centers have waitlists up to two years long and are funded by Student Service Fees.

Scott Petty, a Ph.D. candidate, said professional and graduate students account for almost a third of the SSF budget.

Child care is one of the few services that directly benefits graduate students, Petty said, adding that he feels the rest of the funds primarily serve undergraduate students.

Zach Sheffler, COGS speaker of assembly and a new father, said he and his wife toured the CDC once they knew they were expecting, but it had a two year waitlist.

Sheffler said their now 14-month-old son is not enrolled in a day care.

“Day care is more expensive than I can afford on a graduate student salary,” he said. “My mother moved out from San Diego to take care of him.”

Tamas Varga, a doctoral student at the University, said his 2-year-old daughter attends one of the co-op day care centers on campus affected by SSF funding changes enacted last year.

“My position, as well as many of the graduate students, is to have available child care … not diminishing all the available places at the University,” Varga said.

With the CDC closing, he said he fears it will burden the two co-op child care centers around campus.

The resolution will be presented at COGS’ next general assembly on Feb. 26 in Tate Hall before being given to University administration.