The lack of reliable access to child care has been a consistent issue at the UW Tacoma. As both a commuter school and a school that has a decent number of parents attending, the ability to receive child care is vital.
By not providing it, the burden upon those parents is enhanced, and not just financially. The ability to allocate the necessary hours to succeed in classes becomes exceedingly difficult when child care is unavailable.
While at first glance, it may appear that the UWT YMCA provides a solution through its provisional child care, it in no way alleviates any of the burden from parents who are students. It is important to compare the contractual obligations the YMCA owes toward UWT with the way the YMCA actually functions in practice.
In the 2013 lease agreement between the Board of Regents of the University of Washington (Landlord) and the Young Men’s Christian Association of Pierce and Kitsap Counties (Tenant), it specifies in article 1.24 that the “Student Center” refers to the “Premises, including without limitation, the Recreational Facilities and the Student Facilities.” It states that the “primary objective” of the Y is that of “improving the quality of student experiences at Landlord’s Tacoma.” The resources provided by the YMCA, first and foremost, are to be directed towards the benefit of UWT students.
Among the aforementioned “Recreational Facilities” are spaces such as “cardio and weight rooms, group exercise rooms … and a child watch room,” according to article 1.21.
At the University Y, the child care program offered is only available 5–8 p.m. If it were actually aimed to benefit students, as required by article 1.24, then the hours of operation would be available during standard class times. By only offering the child care in the evening, it benefits nine-to-five workers exercising after work — at the expense of students who need to attend classes during the day.
Arwa Dubad, the President of Associated Students of UWT, argued in correspondence that the Y is not doing the best it could for students.
“The University Y has done a poor job in prioritizing students,” Dubad said. “For the past couple years since the opening of the building, we have seen the focus be on the community members and not the students … The Y would need to change dramatically if they are going to be student-centered.”
The issues that parents face at UWT while trying to attend as students are not difficult to solve. Not only do we already possess the space to provide the necessary services, there is a pre-existing legal obligation to utilize that space in order to help those parents. The University Y needs to live up to its contract and provide adequate child care for parents attending UWT.