The University’s equal employment and education opportunity policy prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. This Task Force is charged with developing policies, practices, and resources for implementation of the University’s commitment to provide equal opportunity regardless of pregnancy. The Task Force should review existing policies, practices, and resources for students, staff and faculty to identify strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities for improvement.
The University of Missouri currently has no specific policy in place regarding accommodation for students in the event of pregnancy, birth, or adoption, leaving actual practice up to individual departments and thus widely variable. Therefore, the first task force goal should be the development of a proposed policy addressing leave for graduate and undergraduate pregnant and parenting students. Consideration should be given to students’ experiences in the classroom, laboratory, field as well as student employment and graduate assistantships. In addition to providing equitable access to education for such students, such a policy will better position the University to request and utilize additional grant funding for paid leave for fellowship students from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. Additionally, development of such a policy will promote greater consistency in practice across campus and support faculty and administrators in their efforts to accommodate students, meet the standards of the University’s equal employment and education opportunity policy, and protect the integrity of the academic experience
While there are policies relevant to pregnant and parenting faculty and staff, these policies are widely scattered, difficult to locate, and written in dense legal language. Therefore, the second task force goal should be creation of a central website for students, faculty and staff describing existing pregnant and parenting policies, practices, and resources in clear language and linking to relevant resources.
After these two goals are met, the Task Force should identify additional priorities, if any, for improving inclusion of and equity for pregnant and parenting members of our community.
The task force should consult with key stakeholders as well as General Counsel as necessary.