Student’s plans to make campus friendlier for student parents

By Kristen Finley
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Leslie Pabingwit with her three-year-old daughter and six-year-old son.

“The campus of California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) is on paper a parent-friendly place,” says Psychology major Leslie Pabingwit. However, no matter how accommodating a campus tries to be, there are some things that end up being missed unless you’re a student parent – even with all the simplest of bases covered, such as changing tables in women’s restrooms day care centers.

Before she transferred to CSUMB this fall from Hartnell Community College in Salinas, where she still works part-time as an instructional aid in biological psychology, she had a full hand in starting a student parent organization with a central focus in making her school more accessible for students with children.

She has high hopes the club (that’s yet to be named until this coming spring) she’s molding with Amy Zamara, Dr. Martinez, the Assistant Director of OC3, and the director of East Campus community will continue long after she’s graduated. She hopes that it develops club-pathways for other students transferring from her community college, where she could be an advisor and incorporate mentorships.

Compared to the community college she attended beforehand, she says that CSUMB has been the best parent-friendly campus she’s heard of (also confirmed by accounts from her friends with children at other CSU campuses). However, after being here for the first couple months, she’s noticed some things that could benefit from some attention – starting with day care.

While her experiences with the existing day care systems have been pleasant so far, she’s heard a few accounts from other student parents that say otherwise.

“CSUMB student parents have been denied preschool/day care for their child on campus due to ‘space.’ We would like to maybe get funding going to help expand it or have the student parent organization volunteer to help. If we are consistent, maybe they will allow more kids,” says a determined Pabingwit.

This, she says, is one of the most struggling aspects of child care on campus. When a child is denied supervision, the parent is forced to miss class or pull strings to be able to make a class. She adds, “It really does take a village to raise children.”

While she’s aware that there is currently a student-parent organization in place on campus, she promises that hers is different – their goals are to push for small changes in what the school already offers. Their sights are aimed at the fact that there aren’t any changing tables in men’s restrooms.

Pabingwit states, “We live in a completely different time and I think that we, the campus and society as a whole, should make men feel more comfortable fulfilling that ‘nurturer’ role so they don’t feel demasculinized. Becoming a single parent has made me not believe in gender roles. I think there’s no such thing. If I can be a provider, pursue my education full time, and be a full time parent, anybody can.”

Aside from busting through and leaving behind gender roles, she mentioned plans on approaching other clubs to include activities that would make students feel more comfortable with bringing their children – either by including events catered to children, or making plans more child-friendly.

“We would like to collaborate with other clubs to emphasis ‘child friendliness’ with their events,” chimes Pabingwit. “If all clubs did that, more student parents would feel like they can attend AND bring their child(ren) because activities for kids would be included.”

Between being a full-time student, parent, and working with those suffering from mental disorders and degenerative diseases, Pabingwit puts in the time to formulate plans with her colleagues to make CSUMB an even more attractive place to study as a student parent.

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