A doctoral student at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck is blaming university administrators and professors for not better protecting her while nine months pregnant and during her first few months of motherhood.
The student, now a mom to her 4-month-old baby girl, is urging others to learn their Title IX rights which can help protect pregnant and parenting students like her.
The student gave birth to her baby girl the weekend before the Spring 2018 semester started in January. She worked with her program director to set up a plan to continue her studies: She would miss the first two weeks of class and Skype-in the following four weeks.
The student said three of four professors were accommodating except for one: Professor Jennifer Cleveland.
Cleveland is a licensed psychologist with a practice in Cresskill and the associate director of the university's COMPASS program, which is designed to provide critical support to students.
The professor told the student that she should wait until the Fall 2018 semester to take the class, after she delivered the baby, the student said.
The student was not made aware of the Title IX rights offered to her until last month when a family member showed her Students for Life website.
Fairleigh Dickinson University issued the following statement to Daily Voice:
"The University is aware that student [removed] is contemplating filing a claim of discrimination and has been in contact with the University's Title IX Coordinator, but she has not formally submitted one yet.
"These matters are extremely sensitive, and because we do not want to deter our community from reporting them, as well as for considerations related to student privacy laws, the University does not comment on individual student's cases."
Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in education and in this student's case, discrimination against pregnant and parenting students. The better-known portion of Title IX is in regards to allocations of funds for sports teams.
FDU Title IX Coordinator Rose D'Ambrosio failed to step in and protect the student when these issues were brought to light last month.
“Title IX violations are more prevalent than we know of because schools often do not properly explain or understand Title IX, and many professors, administrators, and students are unaware of Title IX rights," President of Students for Life of America Kristan Hawkins said.
"Situations like this are one reason we created the Pregnant on Campus Initiative, to create a culture on campus that is accepting of pregnant and parenting students, and works with them to help them both parent and complete their education.”
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