Progress made on lactation rooms

By Libby Campbell, Senior Reporter


Five potential areas have been located on campus to provide nursing mothers access to a private room for breastfeeding or pumping.

Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act, part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama in 2010, requires that workplaces with more than 50 employees provide a private area for nursing mothers to pump breast milk while at work.

Universities across the country have implemented such areas for faculty, staff and students, but currently Eastern does not have any designated area.

Vice President for Student Affairs Stacey Morgan Foster, who also serves as chair of the Women’s Committee, has been busy locating spaces on campus that could be used as lactation rooms.

So far areas have been identified in Patterson, JFK Library and the communications building. Morgan Foster is working with Vice President of Business and Finance Mary Voves to find locations in the PUB and Showalter.

“If all of those come to be, we’ll have five rooms across campus in various locations, which would be great,” Morgan Foster said.

She said Showalter is not an ideal location.

“We do need one sort of in the Senior [and] Monroe area because Showalter isn’t a place where there really are students. Showalter is a very unsatisfactory location,” she said.

Sally Winkle, director of women’s and gender studies, said in the past they have allowed students and faculty to use rooms in Monroe, which is where the program is located.

“When we had an office that we weren’t using, we would use that space. But now we’re using all of our offices,” she said. “There might be something [available] upstairs since they moved the MARS Lab.”

Morgan Foster said she is modeling the rooms based on federal requirements.

“I’m working from the federal standards, so I’m going to be looking for a chair that’s close to an outlet so that somebody can use an electric breast pump if they would like to use an electric one, and an end table,” she said. “That’s pretty much the minimum. The other federal requirement is that it not be a bathroom that you sort of turn into a lactation room.”

Once all five locations have been identified, Morgan Foster will prepare a proposal to submit to Dr. Arévalo and Facilities and Planning containing proposed room locations, suggestions of what needs to be in the rooms and problems with the rooms that should be addressed.

“For example, the room in [communications] studies needs new carpet. I think most of the rooms should be repainted. …Once they get approved, we will get them scheduled for some renovation and painting—small, minor sorts of projects,” she said.

The planned lactation room in the library would be on the bottom level and would serve as more than just a room for nursing or pumping.

“The library wants their room to be a little bit different, and I think it’s probably a really great idea because it is down in the children’s collection area,” Morgan Foster said.

In addition to being a lactation room, it could also be an area with a changing table and a place parents could take their children to wind down if they were being unruly.

“They are going out and doing fundraising for it,” Morgan Foster said. “If they end up getting those things, that’s great. If they don’t, I’ll find a way to get some of the things they would like in there.”