OpEd: Dear Smith’s Administration

Smith College Democrats

Dear Smith’s Administration:

As a student chapter representing the national party, the Smith College Club Democrats (SCCD) strive to promote sustainable and just institutional changes on campus. As such, we have come together to ask that the Smith College Administration state its support of pregnant workers, and affirm its commitment to accommodating their health.

According to a publication written by A Better Balance and the National Women’s Law Center, an overwhelming majority of first-time mothers are working late into their pregnancies—88 percent worked into their last two months of pregnancy in 2006-2008, and 82 percent worked into their last month of pregnancy. Of these working women, many—especially those who are economically vulnerable—will encounter discriminatory prejudices, and experience an unnecessary conflict between their workplace responsibilities and healthcare demands.

Highlighted recently by the Boston Globe, Smith College currently faces allegations of pregnancy discrimination. As dedicated students at a historic women’s college, the SCCD urges the administration to acknowledge present criticisms and lead the way for other post-secondary institutions by standing in favor of legislation that benefits pregnant workers. We are proud that Smith College is ahead of other institutions in the country by offering 8 to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, and we commend President McCartney for her past advocacy for family-friendly policies like paid childcare. We urge the leaders of Smith College to continue to build a legacy of pioneering the workplaces of the future. Expecting pregnant people to chose between their work and the health of their family is an unrealistic ultimatum, and works against the values that define Smith.

To truly guarantee the College’s mission to educate women for the world, there must be a world in which we can apply the skills we acquire at Smith. As Smith students, we’re taught to dream big and aim high as women in the workplace, but our own college is giving us a clear lesson about the realities that working women face when they choose to start families. The SCCD holds that there must be legal protections set in place for pregnant workers before we can expect to enter a market where we will—without controversy—be allowed to balance our families with our careers.

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