University commits to better accommodating pregnant students

by Emily Mosier

After being cited for violating the federal civil rights law known as Title IX, Troy University officials have committed to better accommodating pregnant and parenting students. But what does that mean and what will those changes look like?

“We want to ensure that everyone who needs to know is aware of what they should do in these situations,” said Ashley English, Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources.

Last month, The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights found that the university had failed to accommodate the needs of a pregnant student in the Fall of 2020. The student stated the school failed to provide her a table as requested when she became unable to sit in a desk, and that she received failing grades after being denied the ability to make-up missed work. 

Faculty and staff will soon be required to undergo Title IX training. 

“Training is key to letting people know what is expected of us and how we go about providing what’s needed,” English said.

The training, mandatory for employees, will also be open to students. It will last between 60 and 90 minutes and will be recorded for anyone unable to join. There will also be a survey conducted to gauge the training’s effectiveness.

According to English, Troy has been working with the Department of Education for the past two years, so some changes, such as updates to the university’s website and better tracking of student requests, have already been put into effect. Students can request accommodations and report policy violations online. 

“Of course, what we’ll do is continue reviewing current policy to see if anything else needs to be updated,” English said.

English also said that in her ten years working for the university, this is the only case of pregnancy discrimination that has escalated to the point of reaching her desk. 

Regarding the student whose Title IX rights were violated, the university will adjust the student’s grades and reimburse her for the classes she had to retake.

Accommodations students are allowed to request include breaks during class, temporary parking, reasonable time for nursing and access to lactation spaces. Parents, male and female, can also receive excused absences for taking care of their sick children. 

“A lot of accommodations really depends on what your doctor recommends for you,” English said. “Just as soon as you feasibly can, let your professor know if you are going to be absent.”

Additional changes to Title IX policies may also come in the upcoming academic year. The U.S. Department of Education proposed a Title IX regulation back in June that will alter how universities and colleges investigate, and implement punishments, in sexual harassment and assault cases. The proposal also clarifies protections for pregnant and LGBTQ students.

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