Following the catastrophe of the University Village collapse, there is suddenly a glimmer of hope for the future of child care on campus.
In February, the University Village apartments collapsed. Located in the same complex as those apartments was the Student Parent Center.
As reports of the poor conditions at University Village were made public, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced that the apartments and the Student Parent Center — which is housed in the complex — would close June 30, pending demolition shortly thereafter. Student parents who had previously frequented the center’s service began searching for new places to send their children for day care while they attend classes. Two weeks ago, Loftin announced that the university was asking private developers to send proposals for a new child care facility.
First of all, we thank the university for making the decision to close and demolish University Village. The current location of the child care facility is incredibly dangerous, and it is a hazard to both parents and children. It is nice to know that you’re going to finally shut it down.
However, we need to discuss all of your options before you can make a decision about the next Student Parent Center.
We think that your decision to ask private developers to submit proposals for a new Student Parent Center is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the presence of a private developer could mean the facility will be well-built and ideally located. The safety of the children should be of utmost importance, and a private developer may be able to ensure that.
However, having a private developer construct the new center could also mean a possible rise in prices for the student parents. This provides a problem, seeing as some student parents may not be able to afford a higher-priced center for their children.
Does the university have enough funds to build a Student Parent Center on its own? The possibility of a self-built center presents the opportunity of lower costs for students, but only if the funds are available. Considering that the last Student Parent Center built by MU was in such poor condition, if the university does decide to build another one on their own, they need to make sure that it is more safe and structurally sound than the previous one.
And what about the Child Development Lab? Although it is another existing child care center, it is relatively expensive, to the point where many student parents cannot afford it. There is also a long waiting list of children to be enrolled in the lab. Is there a way to make the lab more affordable and more available for students?
In the end, we’re simply asking that the university to look at every possible option before coming to a decision. We don’t want them taking the cheap way out, or creating unnecessary costs if it’s not going to exponentially benefit its customers. Student parents make up a small portion of campus, but they are just as important as the rest of the student body. If MU administrators do not explore all of their options before making an informed decision about the future of on-campus child care, we could have a repeat of what happened at University Village. And that’s the last thing that any of us wants.