When LSU graduate student Wendy Hansing gave birth to her son, she realized that support and spaces for mothers on campus were limited. Not only were there no centralized resources from which mothers could receive information and help, but there was also a lack of basic necessities, such as lactation spaces, on many campuses. Furthermore, when Hansing took two semesters off from school to take care of her newborn, the school counted it against her.
“The more I looked into this, the more I realized this was not a problem unique to LSU,” says Hansing. “There are few to no organizations nationally that support a mother pursuing higher education degrees or working on a campus.”
In the summer of 2018, Hansing teamed up with her husband, Duncan, and her friends, Sarah Joy Hays and Candice Hillman, to launch Moms on Campus. Moms on Campus is an organization that fights to increase the availability and awareness of resources for any mom on campus, whether she is an undergraduate, graduate student, or faculty or staff member.
Hansing’s main goal is to gather information at LSU to identify the needs of the mom community. By partnering with LSU, she hopes to fill the gaps that currently exist, whether it be through counseling, lactation spaces, or childcare.
“The most difficult part so far has been the time commitment this requires on top of my research, as well as being a wife and mother. It takes a substantial amount of phone calls, emails, and meetings to facilitate change at the university level. I have been finding other moms on campus by ‘pounding the pavement’ and speaking with classmates, faculty, staff, and coworkers,” says Hansing.
Fortunately, it looks like Hansing, her friends, and her husband’s hard work has paid off. Title IX coordinator Jenny Stewart found a way to reinstate Hansing’s two semesters off to her graduate timeline. Hansing hopes to continue to work with Stewart to pursue broader policy changes at LSU.
LSU has also told Moms on Campus that they are committed to outfitting nine new lactation spaces for moms on campus, as well as creating a centralized website to provide information and resources to parents.
“There are more moms at LSU than I originally thought. We’re just so disconnected that it feels isolating. So many people care about this issue that the response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’ve seen changes at LSU happen much quicker than we anticipated,” says Hansing.
With such big wins for the organization, Hansing hopes to continue into the future by creating chapters of Moms on Campus at different colleges around the country.
Hansing enjoys her role in Moms on Campus because it gives her the opportunity to meet and speak with other moms at LSU. She wants them to know that they are not alone and that every pregnancy and child is different, so the more perspectives, the better.
“We want to hear from all moms and friends of moms to help us focus on what the most pressing needs are,” Hansing says. “We shouldn’t have to choose between our families and our education or careers anymore.” ■