Pierce College does not have an authorized place for students, faculty or staff to express or store breast milk, which makes Pierce out of regulation under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.
Lactating mothers who double as students are entitled to a designated room to express and store breast milk under Title IX.
Title IX states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” These protections extend to lactating women.
Benne has allowed women, including faculty, to pump breast milk in empty exam rooms of the Student Health Services building. However, Benne said it is neither appropriate nor safe.
“I feel bad that they don’t have a room,” Benne said. “This is our student health center. It’s not supposed to be for faculty and staff, but I also don’t have any desire to have them pump in a bathroom, if that’s their only recourse. I let them, though they understand that if there’s an emergency and I need the room I’m going to have to interrupt and they’ll have to go elsewhere.”
Since the exam rooms at the Health Center are not designed specifically for breastfeeding, the area is not an ideal spot to express and store milk.
“We’re a little bit better than a bathroom, but I can’t guarantee that there aren’t lingering bacterial particles and viral particles in the exam rooms,” Benne said. “We clean once a day in the morning and then we wipe down everything in the evening when we close,” Benne said.
Benne said the liability is too high for an infant’s milk to be stored in a non-regulated environment. The Student Health Center is not equipped to store infant’s milk.
“In the temperature controlled refrigerator that I have, that’s for my vaccines,” Benne said. “The liability is too bad, it’s too high for an infant’s milk to be stored in a non-regulated environment.”
In addition to not having a proper place to express milk, Pierce also doesn’t have a safe environment to store the milk.
Senior Office Assistant of the Child Development Center Jacqueline Pacheco believes it would be convenient if there were multiple areas students could safely breastfeed, pump or store milk.
“We do have sort of a large campus where it does take some time to walk across, to and from each of the sides of the campus,” Pacheco said. “Maybe they have somewhere to be, if they have to go drop off their child and go to a class right away. It does create an inconvenience if there’s just one area,” Pacheco said.
Jessica Escoto, a nursing major and mother, believes the lactation rooms should be implemented because it could help mothers on campus. Years ago when Escoto was breastfeeding she would have to find a quiet place to cover herself with a blanket.
“I think moms should have a place to feel safe,” Escoto said. “Nowadays people see it as sexualized if you do it out in public.”