By: ALLISSA CORAK
The outcries of staff and students have been heard. The Child Development Center on IU South Bend’s campus is getting another look since its abrupt closing earlier this semester.
As originally reported, staff and students who utilized the child care center would be left with just over two months to make other arrangements. The reaction to the university’s decision to close the center did not sit well with not only students, but faculty too.
That negative reaction prompted professors and other faculty members to see what they could do. On Sept. 12, Anthropology Professor James VanderVeen sent a survey to the student body in order to measure the demand for childcare on campus.
“In the wake of the sudden closing of the IU South Bend Child Care Center in Summer 2017, a faculty committee seeks your feedback on the importance of childcare to the IU South Bend community,” the survey read.
VanderVeen said the results of the survey uncovered overwhelming support as many students noted they may not have been able to finish their education without the help of the center.
“Were getting a lot of remarkable testimonials from students that say how important on-campus child care is to their education,” he said.
Former students like Rae Dolezal-Fisher said because of the university’s decision to end these services, she is sad for the students who currently have children there and the children themselves.
“I never would have been able to graduate and build a better life for myself and my daughter had it not been for the child care center,” she said. “It breaks my heart that they would take that away from current families in need. Child care is more than just a babysitter.”
Testimonies like Dolezal-Fisher’s resulted in the gathering of seven faculty members advocating for a new center and other options. “A number of faculty have formed a working group, and we’re trying to find alternatives whether it’s the same thing on campus but with higher rates, the same thing on campus but with sweat equity,” said VanderVeen.
The sweat equity model is already being tested out at IU Bloomington as a co-op and the professor notes it has been gaining some success, leading to a potential option for IUSB in the future.
While this year isn’t the first time the child care center has been on the block, it is the first time it had been chopped.
VanderVeen explained the center was almost shut down during the 2014-15 school year but the funding was transferred. Responsibility of the funding was handed over to a private entity, saving the space.
That shift of funding was what the school couldn’t hack this year. Chancellor Terry Allison explained in a statement that a contract renewal for the center would be too much money and would potentially cause a “financially unstable” situation for center operators.
VanderVeen said this was indeed the fear of the school, but operators of the child care center reportedly never even had a chance.
“The person who was running it at the time said, ‘Well, we never got a notice about this. We weren’t told to make a pitch for being able to pay for that new cost,’” he said.
While VanderVeen and his group have no official authority to bring the center back, and there is no official word from administration, he and the rest of the working group will aid in suggesting the best options for on-campus child care for now.