Image courtesy of The Catholic University of America
By Katherine Plunkett
In the past month, stickers and posters with QR codes appeared on campus reading: “Pregnant? We’re here for you.” When scanned, the QR codes bring you to Parenting@CatholicU, a new website designed to provide students, faculty, and staff with parenting and pregnancy resources. This comes as a result of the Guadalupe Project, which seeks to ensure that campus is welcoming to parents and children.
Resources include information on pregnancy centers, OB-GYNs, counseling, and free and confidential pregnancy tests at Student Health Services. The website discusses housing needs, childcare options, and material assistance such as diapers and baby wipes that can be found in Cardinal Cupboard.
The Guadalupe Project was announced by former President Garvey on June 24, 2022 after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in order to address how Catholic University can better support families within its community. A committee was convened to compile a list of specific actionable items focused on “building a culture of radical welcome for moms, dads, and babies at Catholic University”.
The project released its report on changes to be implemented immediately and potentially this past fall in October of 2022. The committee identified three spheres for growth on campus: improvements in family friendly policies, adjustments to the physical campus, and enhancement of campus culture. As a result, the project implemented many changes, including increasing faculty and staff paid parental leave from eight to twelve weeks, better-accessible pregnancy resources, and a babysitting program that connects mothers with student volunteers, which is run through Cardinals for Life.
Part of the committee was Student Research Intern Larissa York, a junior biology major and vice president of Cardinals for Life. York was tasked with researching the resources present at around 100 other universities and making suggestions as to what the campus could improve upon.
“My perspective on it was that the biggest thing we need to do is publicize the resources we have on campus,” York said. “Catholic [University] was doing a lot of good things, it was just that no one knew about it.”
York discussed how pregnancy resources used to be organized through Campus Ministry, which meant that students had to ask the chaplain for assistance, something that many campus community members were not aware of or potentially comfortable with.
“The stickers were part of making people aware but also normalizing it, like anybody could be pregnant at any time and that’s okay,” York commented.
The goal of the stickers and posters is to make students and campus community members aware of the resources campus has prior to any potential need. Resources are also compiled in a booklet designed to be easy to read, understand, and share in the hopes that increased awareness of what the university offers can decrease the potential feeling of crisis.
In addition to the recent changes as a result of the Guadalupe project, there are plans for future study into further topics to be addressed. Mother and family housing, scholarships for mothers, and childcare on campus are all under consideration.
“This is the start of a project and I think it is going to continue to be part of the mission of Catholic,” said York. “We want this to be a welcoming place for everyone, and while that is not just for parenting people, it’s for everyone and I think it is going to continue to spill out into other areas to make things more accessible and just have a culture of community.”