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Bruin Parenting Scholars hosts march to advocate for needs of student parents

Pictured are attendees of the Bruin Parenting Scholars healing and visibility walk in a circle. The event was hosted in response to the recent death of a student parent and the arrest of an Early Care and Education caregiver. (Catherine Hamilton/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Sam Mulick

March 23, 2024 8:14 p.m.

The Bruin Parenting Scholars hosted a healing and visibility walk Wednesday to urge UCLA to increase resources, safety and equitability for student parents and their children.

The walk was hosted in response to the death of Luis Jimenez, a fellow Bruin parent, as well as the recent arrest of an Early Care and Education caregiver at a UCLA facility on charges including sexual battery and willful cruelty to a child, said Schinal Harrington, chair of BPS.

[Related: UCLA ECE caregiver arrested for sexual battery, willful cruelty to a child]

The student parents, along with their children, hosted a moment of silence before chanting, “UC, see us now” and “Out of the shadows and into the light” as they walked from outside the Bruin Resource Center through campus.

Harrington said the walk was important because student parents lack accessible resources, including learning spaces, housing and dining accommodations.

“We’re just asking for the UC system to see us, to support us and to give us the equitable resources that we need to succeed,” she said.

Harrington, a fourth-year African American studies and sociology student, said dining halls have turned away student parents because their children could not be swiped in. She added that student parents have also been unable to access library study spaces because their children are not allowed to make noise.

Harrington said the university overall needs to do more to support students who become parents during their time at UCLA.

She said she marched Wednesday for her daughter, adding that many parents experience guilt when needing to spend time as a student instead of with their families. When Harrington asked her daughter where she wants to go to school in the future, she was quick to answer.

“UCLA,” Harrington’s daughter said. “Because my mom went to UCLA.”

BPS has also been demanding additional safety in UCLA’s childcare centers by advocating for more preventative measures, surveillance and training for caregivers, as well as the continuous updating of background checks, Harrington said.

(Catherine Hamilton/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Student parents, their children and supporters are pictured walking through campus. The event began outside the Bruin Resource Center and ended at Murphy Hall. (Catherine Hamilton/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Edin Madrid, co-chair of BPS, said during the walk that he has had to fight for his children to attend on-campus daycare, something he was not initially offered because he is not a faculty member.

“We ask … (for) this daycare center to be made accessible. I do not want to be rejected because I don’t fit the stereotype or the norm of the daycare. In my daycare, I am the only person of color,” said Madrid, a fourth-year sociology student. “I aligned with my community, … and I found my daycare, but I had to fight for it. Nobody should fight for daycare.”

Parents need more financial support from the university, said Antoinette Alfaro, an American Indian studies student. She added that as a parent of three, receiving the same amount in scholarship funds as parents with one child and not qualifying for parking relief have put additional strain on her ability to succeed.

“Even working part time, that’s not enough to cover my rent, along with tuition and other fees and feeding three children,” she said.

Alfaro said the university could better support parents by providing income-based housing for those who struggle to make ends meet. She added that she would be happy living in a dorm room with two bunk beds for her family of four because of how difficult it is to pay rent as a single parent.

Naomi Hammonds, the president of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, said she attended the walk to support BPS after hearing the story of a student parent who could not bring her daughter inside a campus dining hall because of the meal swipe policy.

Hammonds, a fourth-year psychobiology student, said USAC approved resolutions in 2023 to provide funding and help with events for BPS. She added that she feels parents on campus should have their own resource center.

The walk concluded at Murphy Hall, where the parents shared a letter from Jimenez to Chancellor Gene Block that advocated for more equitable housing, better mental health services and the expansion of daycare programs for student parents.

[Related: UCLA student, activist and McNair Research Scholar Luis Jimenez dies at 33]

Dixie Bailón, a third-year linguistics and psychology student and the mother of a five-year-old who has utilized university daycare for the past three years, said the university has failed its parenting students by not providing a safe and accessible daycare.

“UCLA daycare’s job is to literally make sure that our children are safe, and they failed us,” she said. “We’re doing our part, UCLA. You need to do yours.”

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Sam Mulick
Mulick is a news contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a third-year sociology student from northern New Jersey.
Mulick is a news contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a third-year sociology student from northern New Jersey.
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