A woman has been told she cannot breastfeed her baby on campus at one of the world’s most prestigious art schools. Jasmijn Tiffany, a student at Central Saint Martins, was initially led to believe there would be no problem bringing her newborn daughter to classes but said the college reversed that day before she was due to start her course, leaving her struggling to find childcare and to fulfil her course obligations.
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Now she is campaigning to convince every university in the UK to provide spaces where parents can care for their children on or near campus.
“What I would like to see in the future is some sort of breastfeeding room or space on every single university campus in the country,” she told the Guardian.
Tiffany said she had been looking forward to starting her degree in September and had been assured by the college that she would be able to breastfeed her daughter during lectures and other activities. But a few days before the start of term, she received an email from the college saying it could not accommodate her needs.
“They said it was against health and safety policy to have a baby on campus and that I would have to find childcare,” she said. “I was shocked because I had been told before that it wouldn’t be a problem.”
Tiffany, originally from Amsterdam, said she had been left feeling “isolated” by the college’s decision. “It’s been hard,” she said. “I’ve had to miss a lot of lectures and other things because I can’t find childcare at short notice. And it’s been tough emotionally too. It feels like I’m not welcome on campus with my baby.”
A spokesperson for Central Saint Martins said: “We are sorry to hear that Ms Toffano has been unhappy with the support she has received from the college. We have robust procedures in place to support our students with caring responsibilities, including providing them to breastfeed their babies on-site.
“As a further measure, we are investigating the possibility of providing on-campus childcare and will consult with students and staff about this in the new year.”
Tiffany said she was aware of the college’s childcare arrangements but that they did not help her as a breastfeeding mother. “I need to be able to breastfeed my daughter whenever she needs it, and I can’t do that if I’m relying on someone else to look after her,” she said.
She added that she had been inspired by the example set by another art school, Goldsmiths, the University of London, which has introduced designated “quiet rooms” where parents can care for their young children.
“That’s the sort of thing I’d like to see at every university,” she said. “It would make such a difference for parents trying to study and care for their children simultaneously.”
What do you think of this story? Do you think universities should provide spaces for parents to breastfeed or care for their young children on campus? Let us know in the comments below.