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GSAED's nursing room will be the first of its kind on campus. Photo: Kim Wiens

GSAÉD to support students as they pursue academics and venture into parenthood

The University of Ottawa’s Graduate Students Association (GSAÉD) is set to open the first  nursing room on campus in the University Centre (UCU), which will be available for use to all female student parents starting on Jan. 28 at 2 p.m.

“The room is going to be for any female student parents on campus who want to breastfeed their children,” said Lindsey Thomson, GSAÉD’s external commissioner . The room can only be accessed by contacting GSAÉD, the Women’s Resource Centre, Community Life, or the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO).

According to Thomson, the move is in step with a number of graduate students associations across the country. “We’re working in collaboration with the National Graduate Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students.”

“The benefit of this room is that it’s central on campus, it’s a safe and comfortable space,” said Thomson. As well as comfort, the new addition to the UCU will aim to be multifunctional, as well as to accommodate busy routines.

“It’s just finally giving student parents a space that they need so they can meet their academic requirements, and care for their child at the same time.”

Thomson said that plans to open the room started in 2014, but that much of the time since then has been spent negotiating with the university.

“We really had to fight for student parents and their rights on campus,” she said. “We had to meet up with them and present different research findings on the need and the proper practices of a breastfeeding room on campus.”

Thomson also noted that GSAÉD had some help in reaching its goal. “We received a lot of help from the SFUO in the beginning phases of this project,” she said. GSAÉD also worked with the University Centre Management Board and the Community Life office, and the university itself.

“It’s actually the university that provided funding for the room, and GSAÉD were the ones to get everything up and running,” she said. This included negotiating to get space for the room and planning logistics and accessibility.

Thomson says that depending on how much use the room gets, GSAÉD might open another one with a similar design. “We’re in a trial phase right now, we’re going to test this out for the next year or two,” she said. “If we find there’s a lot of demand, we’re going to look into opening up a second room on south campus.”