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URI Pregnant and Parenting Student Policies

 

Policy Statement

The University of Rhode Island provides support for pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, adoption, foster care and acute child health care to all enrolled students.  These supports include but are not limited to: academic adjustments, employment and assistantships, scholarship eligibility, transportation and parking, housing, and physical and mental health care.  These measures ensure compliance with federal stipulations under Title IX and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.

Dissemination of information about these rights under Title IX.  Title IX regulations hold schools responsible for disseminating information about the rights and responsibilities of pregnant and parenting students.  Title IX also holds schools responsible to change the culture to eliminate an environment of discouragement.  This document serves as the foundation for URI’s commitment to support pregnant and parenting students through information dissemination and community education.

Policy Rationale

Beyond adhering to the legal requirements of Title IX, URI is committed to fostering a family friendly environment in which students can balance learning and parenting responsibilities while successfully pursuing their academic goals.  Read more . . .

 


URI Policies

I.       Academic Accommodations

II.      Graduate Student Leaves, Employment and Assistantships

III.     Health

IV.     Housing

V.      Lactation Resources

VI.      Scholarships and Financial Aid

VII.    Student Athletes

VIII.   Transitions In and Out of Full-Time Enrollment (coming soon)

IX.     Transportation and Parking

 



 

I. Academic Accommodations

Chapter 8 of the URI University Manual articulates accommodations that will be made to students who are unable to complete academic requirements due to certain conditions, such as illness or other serious matters.  These conditions include pregnancy and childbirth.  Please refer to Chapter 8 of the manual, Academic Requirements: http://www.uri.edu/facsen/8.20-8.27.html, specifically Articles 8.39.11 and 8.51.11-14. The guidelines below fall under the requirements outlined in those sections of the University Manual.

A. Course Accommodations

These stipulations apply to both male and female student parents regardless of the marital status of the student.[1]

1. Absences: Faculty/course instructors are required by federal law to excuse pregnancy-related absences, as well as absences due to childbirth and recovery, as long as the student’s physician deems the absences medically necessary. When the student returns to class, the student must be allowed to return to the same academic status as before the medical leave began.

  • During the pregnancy of a student’s partner, the partner may also be excused from absences due to attending important medical appointments and childbirth, regardless of the marital status of the student.
  • Faculty/course instructors are encouraged, likewise, to excuse absences of parenting students if and when a dependent child becomes ill and cannot attend regular childcare due to illness. It makes no sense to require a caregiving parent to attend class when there are no alternative arrangements available for an ill child (see research on presenteeism, e.g. Matsushita et al, 2010).

2. Assignment deadlines: Faculty/course instructors are required to work with students to create alternative due dates for assignments when students cannot meet an assignment deadline due to a pregnancy or related issue (e.g. medical appointments). Under such circumstances, faculty/course instructors are required to be flexible in constructing alternative deadlines without prejudice or penalty.  Instructors are encouraged to work with parenting students in the same manner when issues, such as a seriously ill child, interfere with assignment deadlines.

3. Alternative assignments: If pregnancy or childbirth-related absences prevent a student from completing an assignment (e.g. laboratory practicums or in-class activities), faculty/course instructors are required to construct alternative and equivalent assignments without prejudice or penalty.   In some cases, online participation may be considered in lieu of class attendance for a particular assignment.  Instructors are encouraged to treat parenting-related absences in a similar manner.

4. Out-of-class requirements: Many courses have out-of-class activities or requirements, and faculty/course instructors are required to be creative and flexible when pregnancy and/or childbirth issues prevent student parents from participating in such activities.  In such circumstances, and for parenting students who face similar issues, faculty/course instructors should to provide an alternative assignment without prejudice or penalty.

B. Laboratory Accommodations

In situations where laboratory requirements pose a specific health or safety hazard for a pregnant or breastfeeding student, that student has the right to request reasonable modification of the laboratory assignment.  Faculty/lab instructors are required to reasonably accommodate the student by constructing an alternative and equivalent assignment.

C. Child Care  

Faculty/course instructors are encouraged to point pregnant and parenting students to resources available for childcare.  In the spirit of Title IX, instructors should be sensitive to the reality that childcare arrangements sometimes are not 100 percent reliable in every situation, and to be flexible about accommodations for students in such circumstances.

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II. Graduate Student Leaves, Employment and Assistantships

A. Graduate Student Leaves of Absence.

The Graduate Student Manual, section 4.30, describes the conditions under which a graduate student may consider and be approved for a leave of absence.  These conditions include circumstances surrounding pregnancy, childbirth, care for a newborn child, or other extended caregiving challenges that interfere significantly with academic commitments.  The Graduate School, instructors, advisors, and other individuals are to allow such leaves without prejudice or penalty during the leave or upon the students’ return.

B. Graduate Student Employment

(coming soon)

C. Graduate Student Assistantships

The Graduate Student Union contracts provides stipulations regarding sick leave, paid parental leave, maternity leave of absence, and unpaid parental leave. Paid sick leave (Article 21.1) includes conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth, though a physician’s note may be required at the discretion of the supervisor. Article 21. 2 stipulates that graduate assistants with one year of service or more are entitled to 6 weeks of paid parental leave upon the birth or adoption of a child.  Article 21.3 stipulates that graduate assistants with 6 months of service are entitled to a leave of absence of up to 6 months but not to exceed the appointment period.  Finally, Article 21.4 states that graduate assistants are entitled to unpaid leave options, as required by FMLA (Federal Medical Leave Act)

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III.  Health: Counseling and Health Services

When a student thinks she may be pregnant, it can be a time of joy or turmoil, depending on the circumstances.  Directing students to sources of emotional, practical, and medical support can be very helpful. The University offers the following confidential services and resources.

A. Counseling Center 

The Counseling Center (http://www.uri.edu/counseling/) offers students a supportive, nonjudgmental, confidential environment to discuss and address all issues related to pregnancy and parenting.  The Counseling Center may additionally provide students with brief couples and family consultations as needed regarding these issues. The Counseling Center has on-call counselors available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. should an urgent need arise for support.  Students should call 401.874.2288 or visit 217 Roosevelt Hall to set up an appointment.

B. URI Women’s Center  

The mission of the URI Women’s Center (http://www.uri.edu/women_center/) is to create an educational and work environment rich in visible role models and free of sexual bias and inequities.  The vision of the URI Women’s Center is to assist URI women to expand their awareness of important women’s issues.  The URI Women’s Center is a place where all university women (student, faculty, and staff) go for education, support, referrals, and crisis intervention.

C. Health Services  

Students can obtain pregnancy testing at Health Services Women’s Clinic (www.health.uri.edu) (401.874.5151).  If the pregnancy test is positive, the student will be sent for a consultation with one of the RNs on the Health Education staff (401.874.5954).  The health educator will discuss various options available to the student.  If the student decides to carry the pregnancy to term, she will be referred off-campus for pre-natal care and after-birth care.  Referred medical providers accept URI’s school insurance.

D. Student Health Insurance  

URI provides students the option to purchase an insurance policy currently underwritten by United Healthcare Student Resources (https://www.uhcsr.com/) that includes (options may vary depending on the policy year) maternity care, pregnancy complications, voluntary termination of pregnancy, and routine newborn and dependent care.  Students should visit http://health.uri.edu/insurance.php for detailed information.

E. Additional Resources 

There are many additional, off-campus resources and agencies that provide counseling on options for pregnant women and abortion services.  A partial list can be found here.


 

IV.  Housing

A. Undergraduate Pregnant Students

Pregnant undergraduates who live in the residence halls or in undergraduate apartments are able to remain in their academic year room assignment during their pregnancy. If the student elects to remain living on campus during her pregnancy or after the birth of a child, it is recommended that the student transition to an apartment in Graduate and Family Housing’s University Village Apartments during their 3rd  Moving assistance from the residence hall to the apartments can be provided by Housing and Residential Life (HRL) staff if needed.

B. Graduate Pregnant Students

On campus living accommodations for graduate students are limited to the University Village Apartments.  Village residents are encouraged to stay in the complex during pregnancy and after the birth of their child.

C. Parenting Students

Undergraduate and graduate students who have children or are married are able to live in Graduate and Family Housing’s University Village Apartments. An application to live in University Village Apartments should be submitted as soon as possible given the considerable waiting list that exists during certain times of the year.  Applications are available through the Graduate and Family Housing webpage (http://www.housing.uri.edu/info/graduate-housing.php).  A deposit is not required to submit an application for these apartments.  Apartments are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, as units become available.  Questions pertaining to this policy should be directed to the Graduate and Family Housing Office by emailing gradhse@etal.uri.edu or calling 401.874.2232.

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V.  Lactation Resources

In accordance with Rhode Island state law, the University of Rhode Island acknowledges that a woman may breastfeed her child in any place open to the public on campus, and shall provide sanitary and private space, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the work or study area for employees or students who are nursing to be used as a lactation room.  This policy is applicable to all female University faculty, staff, and students.

The Kingston, Bay, and Providence campuses offer lactation spaces for breastfeeding or nursing students and employees. For a description of current facilities, please go to the URI Work-Life website Lactation page:

A. Class Policies

Students and instructors planning to use lactation facilities must do so around their scheduled class times. Although any necessary student accommodations should be negotiated with individual instructors, and instructors are encouraged to be flexible and supportive, they are not required to excuse tardiness or absences due to lactation needs.

B. Student Employees

All University supervisors are responsible for being aware of the policy and working with female employees to arrange mutually convenient lactation break times. The Office of Student Affairs will be responsible for making this policy known to female student employees.  Student employees should give supervisors adequate notice identifying a need for lactation support and facilities. A full description of this process is available HERE.

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VI. Scholarships & Financial Aid

All undergraduate and graduate students who qualify for and receive federal financial aid must meet the standards stipulated in the University’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy.  Some exceptions apply, including those related to pregnancy and parenting, as noted below.

A. Continuous Enrollment

Some scholarships require continuous enrollment, except in significant, extenuating circumstances, which may include issues related to pregnancy, childbirth, and, in some cases, parenting challenges. Pregnant and/or parenting students who wish to continue their financial aid but need to pursue a limited part-time option or a leave of absence are encouraged to go through the appeal process as outlined in the SAP policy.

B. Non-completion of Course Work

Likewise, the withdrawal from a course and/or receipt of a grade of I or NW due to pregnancy or parenting challenges also may qualify as a significant, extenuating circumstance. The notification of the withdrawal of a student’s financial aid is done through the U.S. Mail to their official mailing address.  Once notified of the withdrawal of their financial aid, impacted students are also encouraged to appeal any decision to end their financial aid within 10 calendar days of such notification.

C. Appeals

If an appeal is approved, students are allowed to receive financial aid for one semester only, except in unusual circumstances, such as those for which Title IX regulations apply, including pregnant and parenting students.

D. Graduation Timeline

Masters and PhD graduate students who are unable to complete their degree within the allowed timeframe may appeal for an exemption.  This may include reasons related to pregnancy and parenting (see also Graduate Employment and Graduate Students section above).

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VII. Student Athletes

URI Athletics Department will not allow a hostile or intimidating environment on the basis of pregnancy or parental status to exist.  Acts or statements that are hostile toward pregnancy, parenting, or breastfeeding, or that shun or shame the student-athlete because she is pregnant, parenting, or breastfeeding will not be tolerated. Such conduct prevents an individual from effectively participating in, or denies a person the benefits of, the educational opportunities provided by this institution.

A. Athletics Participation

  1. URI Athletics Department will only require a pregnant or parenting student-athlete’s physician to certify physical and emotional fitness as a condition for participating in athletics when such certification is required of student-athletes who experience other temporary disabilities.
  2. URI Athletics Department will allow a pregnant or parenting student-athlete to fully participate on the team, including all team-related activities, unless the student-athlete’s physician or other medical caregiver certifies that participation is not medically safe.
  3. URI Athletics Department will allow a pregnant student-athlete to continue to participate in a limited manner on the team, including all team-related activities, unless the student-athlete’s physician or other medical caregiver certifies that partial participation is medically safe.
  4. Medically necessary absences from team activities due to pregnancy shall be considered excused absences.
  5. No coach or other athletics department personnel shall suggest to any student-athlete that his or her continued participation on a team will be affected in any way by pregnancy, parental or marital status.
  6. URI Athletics department will not terminate or reduce a student-athlete’s athletics aid because of the student-athlete’s pregnancy, marital or parental status during the term of the award.
  7. Students may take a medical pregnancy leave, and at the end of that leave they will be reinstated to the same status they had before the leave.
  8. URI Athletics department will renew a pregnant, formerly pregnant, or parenting student athlete’s award, so long as the student-athlete is in good standing academically, remains engaged with our athletics department and meets NCAA eligibility standards. Returning students may be evaluated in the same manner as any other team member to determine their specific position on the team, such as a starter or as a forward.
  9. URI Athletics department will not permit the use of any written or verbal contract that requires a student-athlete to not get pregnant or become a parent as a condition of receiving an athletics award.
  10. Our pregnant and formerly pregnant students who wish to continue to participate in athletics are entitled to assistance and rehabilitation on the same basis as such assistance is provided to student-athletes with other temporary disabilities.

B. Assistance to Student-Athletes

  1. URI Athletics department will help the pregnant or parenting student-athlete plan for his or her continued academic progress, in accord with the university’s educational mission.
  2. URI Athletics department will help the student-athlete return to sport after pregnancy and during parenting, if the student-athlete so desires.
  3. URI Athletics department will assist the student-athlete to access the pregnancy and parenting support resources that are available to all college students.
  4. URI Athletics department, in conjunction with the team physician, the Faculty Athletics Representative, the Senior Woman Administrator, Team Certified Athletic Trainers and others designated by the university President, will regularly review student-athlete pregnancy and parenting cases as they occur to monitor compliance with this Policy

C. Reporting

  1. URI Athletics department will not require any student-athlete to reveal pregnancy or parenting status. Our department will work to create an environment that encourages the student athlete to voluntarily reveal her pregnancy and his or her parenting status, in order for our institution to provide optimal support for physical and mental health with professional health care. The coach’s attitude toward pregnancy and parenting can be pivotal in creating such a safe environment.
  2. No athletics department personnel will publicly release personally identifiable health information about pregnancy without written, timely authorization from the student-athlete.
  3. When a student-athlete reveals her pregnancy or parenting status to athletics personnel, they should direct the student-athlete to this Policy. They should reiterate the department’s protection of the student-athlete’s team membership status and financial aid. Athletics personnel should refer the student-athlete to the team physician, to the student-athlete’s personal physician, or to a university-designated representative trained in providing information about pregnancy and parenting support options.
  4. Athletics personnel who suspect that a student-athlete is pregnant may report their concerns to the team physician or to a university-designated representative trained in pregnancy and parenting support options.
  5. Teammates of pregnant student-athletes may report their concerns to the team physician or to a university-designated representative trained in pregnancy and parenting support options.

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VIII.  Transitions In And Out Of Full-Time Enrollment

(coming soon) 

 

IX.  Transportation and Parking

Pregnant students who are medically in need of transportation support are encouraged to make an appointment with Disability Services directly to discuss their concerns or needs. Please call 401-874-2098, go to 330 Memorial Union, Office of Student Life, or e-mail dss@etal.uri.edu, to set up your initial appointment.

A. Transportation

Please see the Disability Services page on campus transportation, including the campus RIPTA shuttle bus system.  Pregnant students may, in some cases, be able to access the URI Ram Van, though space is limited, and priority is given to those with documented, permanent disabilities.

B. Parking

Pregnant students are eligible for two types of temporary parking accommodations.  Please see the URI Disability Transportation and Parking webpages for complete information and guidelines.  Students are encouraged to contact this office with any questions: 401.874.2098.

  1. URI 30-day Medical Parking Permit. URI Parking Services provides temporary, non-renewable medical parking pass, on the recommendation from Disability Services.  This pass enables parking in faculty/staff lots closer to campus.  It does NOT allow parking in disability accessible parking spaces.  If you anticipate needing parking accommodations beyond 30 days, you should begin the application process for the state disability parking placard.
  2. RI DMV-issued parking placard. Students who anticipate a period of temporary disability due to pregnancy and have medical documentation are encouraged to apply to the state of Rhode Island for a parking pass. Please not that this process can take a few weeks.  Please contact RI DMV for temporary disability parking placard

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[1] The US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, June 2013, addressed the issue of instructors’ unique policies in their FAQs:

What if some teachers at a school have their own policies about class attendance and make-up work?  Every school that receives federal financial assistance is bound by Title IX.  Schools must ensure that the policies and practices of individual teachers do not discriminate against pregnant students.  For example, a teacher may not refuse to allow a student to submit work after a deadline that she missed because of absences due to pregnancy or childbirth.  Additionally, if a teacher’s grading is based in part on class attendance or participation, the student should be allowed to earn the credits she missed so that she can be reinstated to the status she had before the leave.  Schools should ensure that their teachers and staff are aware of and follow Title IX requirements (emphasis added).

 

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