Twenty-five graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and members of Local 35 assembled outside the Provost’s Office Friday morning to urge Yale to release the results of a 2004 study on child care at Yale.
Students circulated a petition demanding that Yale release the child care survey data and increase the availability of child care on campus during the “speak-out,” which was organized by members of the Graduate Student Assembly and the Graduate Employees and Students Organization. Although the University has not released the survey results, the findings call for an increase in affordable child care.
The University is still studying the data from the 2004 survey of 18,000 faculty, staff and graduate students and is planning to announce a number of changes to the child care support system in coming weeks, said Stephanie Spangler, Yale’s Deputy Provost for Biomedical and Health Affairs. Spangler said the final survey results arrived in late spring, and since then her office has worked to develop new solutions.
“We really are trying to address needs across our community in ways that are responsive to what the community has told us they want,” Spangler said.
Chris Mason GRD ’07, who recently stepped down as chair of the GSA, said despite repeated attempts he was unable to arrange a meeting with representatives of the Provost’s Office to discuss the survey results until Sept. 27. Although Mason said he was shown some of the survey results at that meeting, he was told not to share the data.
“I don’t know what to do other than get out in the streets,” Mason said. “I think it’s gravely irresponsible for them to wait this long.”
Spangler declined to discuss the specific survey results on Friday, but she said the survey identified a demand for more affordable care and more care choices, as well as more spots in the five Yale-affiliated child care centers. Spangler said the survey results also show a widespread need for more back-up care, when a child’s primary caregiver is unavailable.
“Not everyone wants to get child care from the same service,” she said. “One thing we tried to do was develop a menu of enhancements that would recognize that.”
Mason said he thinks it is inappropriate to choose changes to the child care system without consulting the parents and parents-to-be who will be affected by the decisions, but Spangler said she expects to consult with the community again after initial proposals are made.
Among the several speakers were two parents, with children in tow, who described their difficulties supporting a family on an academic salary because of the high costs of child care and what they said was a lack of institutional support from Yale. Dianella Howarth, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, brought her infant child to the protest Friday. She said the first weeks of motherhood have been overwhelming, particularly because she lacked a support network in New Haven.
“A lot of people who are postdocs and grad students are here away from home,” she said. “I have no relatives close by. It’s just me and my husband.”
Kate Clancy GRD ’07 said the University should recognize that graduate students need more child care support because they are likely to have children at this stage of their lives.
The meeting was part of a series of GESO events on the relationship between work and family for academics. In February, 100 female scientists signed a petition organized by GESO asking Yale President Richard Levin to provide more affordable child care, dependent health care, and tenure reforms.