There’s probably a boob joke in here somewhere but I have far too much class to go there.

Colleen Flaherty of Inside Higher Ed reports.

A Room of One’s Own

Some graduate students at the University of Chicago who are breastfeeding mothers and away from their babies during the day want a private place to use a breast pump on the central campus. So far they’ve been referred to a list of lactation stations elsewhere on campus, communal family areas and bathrooms.

The grad students say all they want is a modest space that is not a bathroom. They need to lock the door for privacy and would like a small refrigerator. So far, they say, the university hasn’t been able to meet their request, allegedly citing their status as students – not employees – as a reason.

Beyond lactation stations, the issue raises larger questions about the status of grad students – seen by some as students and others as employees, and by others still as both – and that to which federal and state labor laws would entitle them, as well as provisions afforded to them under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars sex discrimination in education programs.

Claire Roosien, a second-year graduate student in Near Eastern languages and civilizations and president of the university’s Student Parent Group, began looking for a place to pump convenient to Chicago’s main quad last year, after giving birth to her daughter. She was referred to a list of a campus lactation stations, but those near where she and other humanities and social science students study turned out to be handicapped bathroom stalls or open lounges, she said – not ideal for the somewhat awkward process of using a breast pump.