A Place to Nurse

February 10, 2011 Local, News

Room 322 on the second floor of the Olin Library is much more than just a study room. Just recently, it was also given the dual purpose of providing nursing mothers a place to nurse in private.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was mandated on March 23, 2010. The act stated that employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for one year after the child’s birth.” They are also required to give the employee a “place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”

Maria Martinez, assistant vice president of the human resources department, was very involved in helping to bring a nursing room to Rollins. “It wasn’t that difficult,” she said. “The administration was all for it.”

She said that she is pleased that Rollins adhered to the law, considering the fact that most nursing mothers just use staff rooms or their offices to nurse. “In a college environment, there may not have been a need for a private space.” Martinez also added that an e-mail was sent to all female faculty and staff at the beginning of the semester informing them that the room is now available for use.

Professor of Philosophy Margaret McLaren thinks that the nursing room was an excellent idea. “I think it’s really important for the faculty, staff and students if they’re nursing because it’s a necessary thing to do.” She believes that if there is a Congressional nursing room in Washington, D.C., then there should be a nursing room at Rollins. Shawne Keevan, circulation specialist in the Rollins library and mother to a small child, seconded McLaren’s feelings. “I think it’s a good thing that [the act] has been mandated… I’m really glad [the room is] available.”

The room has been ready since November, but it was only opened this semester. According to Martinez, the longest aspect of the process was waiting for the nursing mother sign to be made and affixed outside the room. There is also a switch underneath the sign that one can slide to show whether the room is occupied or if it is available. The room may also be used as a study room, but nursing women have priority over those studying.

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