UA should lead the way with maternity parking

Kellen Jones, Contributing Columnist

The University of Alabama must consider modest changes that will greatly improve the lives of the University’s female students. If the University is to truly value these students, it must implement maternity parking spaces throughout campus.

This simple and sensible solution was pioneered overseas and continues to gain traction in the United States. As we continue to devise solutions to the world’s inaccessibility, we must consider mothers.

Maternity parking spaces function like accessible parking, allowing for larger parking spots that are positioned closer to the entrances of buildings.

It is impossible to ignore the unique difficulties that young and expecting mothers experience in education. Under Title IX, this population is granted legal protection, but it is not enough to adhere to legal standards of nondiscrimination; the University must actively protect its students with children.

Pregnant women face an increased degree of difficulty walking long distances, and parents are tasked with juggling their own possessions while keeping their children safe. Maternity parking spaces would help alleviate these difficulties by reducing the distance mothers have to walk to their destinations.

Additionally, these parking spaces will allow mothers to comfortably exit their vehicles. They will have more room for unloading their children, strollers and baby carriers as they head to class.

The University of Alabama would be among just a handful of American universities to have a pro-mother parking policy. Virginia Commonwealth University, Cornell University, California State University in Fresno and the University of Central Florida are some of the only schools in the United States that have maternity parking spaces.

Notably, none of The University of Alabama’s rival institutions have maternity parking spaces. If the University is to dominate the SEC, it must do so in more ways than sports. It must continue to be a pioneer in the state and country by prioritizing its students.

While LSU and Auburn have some preferential treatment for mothers, their accommodations are limited. LSU’s program is limited to employees, and Auburn’s is only available to mothers in their third trimester of pregnancy.

To qualify, these mothers must have a doctor’s note confirming the parking spaces are “medically necessary.” These restrictions are arbitrarily exclusive and obstruct the spirit of maternity parking spaces.

Should the University implement maternity parking spaces, these spaces must be made available to all pregnant women and mothers irrespective of whether they are students, employees or visitors.

The University of Alabama always strives to go the extra mile. In this spirit of competition, let’s beat Auburn by installing parking spaces that are maternity friendly. Let us ensure that our value of women extends beyond Women’s History Month.

Questions? Email the opinions desk at letters@cw.ua.edu.