Oregon State University

Pregnant and Parenting Students & Employees

Pregnant and Parenting Students & Employees


Prior to Title IX, it was legal for schools to expel pregnant students; they feared that pregnant students would influence their peers.4 Title IX was passed with the objective to protect “students from being refused enrollment or excluded from school-related activities” while ensuring equal access to educational opportunities for women and girls.”2 Despite legal protection, pregnant and parenting students continue to face various barriers to their success. They may experience discrimination by being pushed toward certain academic majors, subjected to rigid absence policies, and unable to access extracurricular activities because of childcare responsibilities.2

With the passing of Title IX, The Childcare & Family Resources Office, founded in 2010, works to remove barriers and meet the needs of the university’s growing population of student parents. As a student fee-funded resource, the office primarily serves students parents; however, they also work to provide family-centered resources in support of university faculty and staff.  Coordinator, Amy Luhn and her dedicated staff support student parents at Oregon State by advocating for their needs, helping them navigate the university, and connecting them with resources. For example, in 2006, Our Little Village was opened to provide onsite childcare to students using the Valley Library and in 2012 year they added a new site at Dixon Recreation.

Although considerable strides have been made in the provision of support and resources for pregnant and parenting students and employees, the 40th anniversary of Title IX provides an opportunity to reflect on what else needs to be done to ensure equal treatment and provide equal access to educational and professional opportunities. According to Luhn, “There are a lot of creative ways that you can serve families”. Some strategies may involve the investment of resources, but Luhn also points out that even something as simple as “offering priority registration would go a long way toward helping student parents balance their education and their families.”

Amy Luhn

For women with children, considering attending college, Amy Luhn believes “You can do it! Women can marshal some amazing strength and if there is a system that is supportive and sensitive to some of those unique issues parents face they can do it!”

Amy Luhn,Coordinator of Childcare & Family Resources

Reproductive Health Research

The Reproductive Health Lab, housed in the department of Anthropology, opened its doors in Fall 2008. The lab is dedicated to research and advocacy in reproductive health and medical anthropology with the aim of reducing health inequities and supporting individuals to be active and assured in their reproductive healthcare.

Currently, the lab has several students involved in ongoing research projects taking place in various locations: Puerto Rico-effects of U.S. dumping on health; Haiti-post Earthquake barriers to healthcare;  Sierra Leone– midwifery training for traditional birth Attendants; U.S. -teen pregnancy support project to break intergenerational cycles of teen motherhood; Uganda-fistula prevention.

Researchers and Interns consist of both males and female members -11 graduate and 15 undergraduate interns - from various field of expertise: clinical degrees, anthropology, public health, clinical medical anthropology, and women’s studies. Through education and empowerment the lab strives with the common goal of improving reproductive health for all.

Melissa Cheyney

“We operate on a social justice model of leadership ...all of us are teachers and leaners...if we can’t get an equal start on life we can’t be equal; inequality begins in the womb. “                               

Melissa Cheyney, Director of Reproductive Health Lab & Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Pregnant and Parenting Students & Employees (.pdf)


2National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education (NCWGE). Title IX at 40: Working to Ensure Gender Equity in Education. Washington, DC: NCWGE,2012.
Kendra Fershee, “Hollow promises for pregnant students: How the regulations governing title IX fail to prevent pregnancy Discrimination in School (2009).

Contact Info

Equity and Inclusion 327/330 Snell Hall Corvallis, Oregon 97331 phone: 541-737-3556
fax: 541-737-8232
Email OEI
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