By Erica Smith
Erica Smith is a junior at Brigham Young University pursuing a major in English and a minor in editing.
After months of noisy construction, the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University unveiled a new, family friendly study center. Though the sign outside labels it as a family friendly study room, “room” is an understatement. This multi-room study center contains chairs and tables for studying parents, kid sized tables and chairs, two family restrooms, a nursing room, a giant wooden play castle, a low-fenced play area, a rack of picture books, a dollhouse, several brightly colored cushions, and a lost and found bin for toys. Inside this complex are two group study rooms, walled off from the play area for quiet, with full length windows allowing parents to keep an eye on their children.
The best thing about this study center isn’t its amenities, but its location. No, I’m not talking about the study center being situated right across the hall from the library’s vending machines, although that’s yet another perk. The room is on the main floor of the library, almost at the front of the building, making it easily accessible and highly visible. Before this center was built, nursing mothers had to maneuver strollers into an elevator or bounce them up the stairs to reach the nursing room on the second story. Now it’s one of the first things students see when they walk through the library. While studying outside it the other day, I watched two campus tour guides point it out to visiting high school students. BYU has put student mothers front and center. It’s impossible for any student, be they pregnant, parenting or otherwise, to go to BYU and be unaware of the study center’s existence.
In addition to the amenities in their friendly study center, Brigham Young University has sixteen nursing lounges and eight diaper decks on campus. A new science building, currently under construction, will include a nursing room with a fridge for mothers who use breast pumps. BYU is going above and beyond to encourage student mothers to stay in school, and setting an example for colleges that are not yet doing the same.
The study center sends a message to student parents that they deserve to be accommodated. BYU is proud to be a pro-family school. In 2015, SFLA ranked them among the best school for pregnant and parenting and students, and in 2016, I spotlighted my family studies professor after he told my classmate to bring a baby monitor to class.