Before learning about Project Rosie, senior student and Anchor Lifestyle Editor Megan Grimes didn’t know she had rights as a pregnant student.. When Grimes found out she was pregnant, she noticed a flyer with the picture of Rosie the Riveter, which read, “Pregnant? Need help?” Followed by, “Pregnancy and parenting don’t have to mean the end of your education, dreams, or goals. We’re here to connect you with the resources needed to support and empower you to succeed.” Project Rosie is an organization that aims to provide students at college campuses across Michigan with information about the resources available to them as pregnant students or as moms. Along with information about healthcare, housing and education financing, Project Rosie also contains a link to information about student rights under Title IX.
Information from Project Rosie led Grimes to meet with Sara Dorer, Hope College’s Title IX coordinator. “Sara was awesome,” says Grimes. Dorer helped Grimes secure housing where she could live with her son and his father. Dorer also informed Grimes that she had a right to continue her education and extracurricular activities during her pregnancy and to be provided with reasonable accommodation, such as access to nursing facilities, time off from class and exemption from strenuous lab activities. Grimes says, “That was one of the things that I found out about through Sara Dorer and through Project Rosie: pregnant women and parents have the right to keep their education and to get help if they need it.” Dorer also shared information about a nursing room in the A. Paul Schaap Science Center, which Grimes says she used frequently. Sara Dorer says, “I typically encourage expecting students to meet with me just to make sure they understand what those rights are and how I can help them. The intent is that if there are unexpected medical needs during the pregnancy or just after the birth, we could work with faculty members to do everything possible to allow them to complete their semester as planned.”
Although Title IX provides rights to women during and just after pregnancy, it does not provide long term rights for student parents. Parenting is technically included under Title IX rights, but the definition of parenting in this context is limited only to the recovery period just after birth. Dorer says, “In terms of support for parenting students on campus, I can speak only to the fact that when we have a student who has had a specific need, I know various offices have worked together to see what might be an option for support.”
Project Rosie is not an organization that will contact students personally. Instead, it gives information about a plethora of resources available to pregnant and parenting students. Unlike the rights given under Title IX, Project Rosie includes resources for students who need assistance in parenting even long after the birth has taken place. Students can use the website to search for Hope College and find support organizations specific to Hope and the Holland area. One resource listed on Project Rosie that Grimes used, aside from the information about Title IX rights, was Positive Options. Located on 14th Street and unaffiliated with Hope College, Positive Options gives pregnancy tests, as well as providing counseling and support for a full range of options, including parenting, adoption and abortion. Some other resources for pregnant students that Grimes did not use are NAF, which provides information about clinics nearby campuses, and NARAL, which provides additional information on options for unplanned pregnancies.
Grimes found Bridges, a Michigan healthcare website, to be very helpful as well. Using Bridges, students can apply for healthcare coverage, food assistance, cash assistance, child development and care and state emergency relief. Project Rosie also gives information about how parenting students can apply for scholarships given specifically to mothers in education, apply for Michigan or federal student aid and utilize Hope College’s Financial Aid Office for help with the process.
Grimes indicates that she felt supported by Hope’s community. She says, “All my professors were really understanding. There were some things that I couldn’t do in the lab… they were very understanding of that. And they weren’t afraid to talk to you about it, which I was very happy about.” She also indicated that the student community has been supportive of her and her son, Teddy. When asked what Hope College could do better, she mentioned that when she found out she was pregnant and began looking for resources, Hope’s website offered almost no information about how she could get support. “I think they could do more to have the resources directly listed on Hope’s website.” Grimes also mentioned that having more nursing-mom rooms could have also helped. She does n0t know of any others besides the one in the Science Center. She feels that it would have been really helpful if Hope had a childcare program, but says she understands that the number of parenting students on campus is small enough that a program might not be practical.
One challenge for Grimes was finding housing. Although she was supported by Dorer and the Title IX office, she says the process was tricky and time-consuming. Eventually, she was placed in a four-person cottage with her son, Teddy, and Teddy’s father. She says the cottage situation has worked well for them, although she wishes she did not have to pay for Teddy to live on campus. Another challenge for Grimes was the isolation that a student mom can feel. She says that, “This is a nationwide issue… there’s not a lot of help for college moms… having someone to talk to who ‘gets it’ would be really helpful.” When asked what advice she would give to others on the same journey, Grimes says to “Advocate for yourself… because you won’t know the options unless you go ask for them.”