Student ‘anxious’ after uni suspends her for taking her baby to lectures

‘I miss going into campus and I miss my friends’

A student says she’s been left with “a lot of anxiety” after being suspended from her university for bringing her baby to lectures.

Psychology student Leah Foster says she is “distraught” at having to put her studies at hold after bringing her son into class with her, the Mirror reports.

She began taking her son onto campus with her, but after a few weeks Leah received an email requesting a meeting with student services. At first she had thought the meeting would be about how they could support her – but says she was “blindsided”.

Leah said she “felt a bit blindsided by some of the things they were saying because I was expecting to have an actual supportive chat but it wasn’t supportive whatsoever.

“They did say they’ve received complaints but I don’t see how he can be distracting in any way, if he starts to make a noise I remove myself and him from the lesson so it’s no more disruptive than someone getting up and going to the toilet.”

A spokesperson for Leah’s uni, Derby, said it would never exclude a student because they wish to continue studying while breastfeeding, as she is. However, it said babies and children aren’t allowed into classes as they may distract students.

She said she hasn’t heard anything from students or lecturers that her son is disruptive, but said in the meeting: “They also said that some people have complained that they can’t bring their children onto campus but I said that he’s only coming with me because he’s so young and he’s breastfed.

“I have a two-year-old as well but he doesn’t come with me because he would be two disruptive so I have different childcare arrangements for my two-year-old son but Emmett is still too young.”

After the meeting, in October, at the start of November she had an email saying: “We understand you’ve continued to bring him in despite what we told you”. Leah claims she wasn’t told she couldn’t bring her son in.

Leah says she’s anxious about how much uni she’s missed whilst being in limbo: “There’s a lot of anxiety about how much I’ve missed, I actually miss going into campus and I miss my friends, I’m worried that I’m missing out on content in the seminars and workshops.”

A few weeks later, Leah then had a phone call telling her she’d been suspended by the uni, prior to an investigation. The suspension was due to last two weeks, but Leah claims she is yet to hear back. A spokesperson from the uni said they have invited her to a meeting “to revisit all the options”.

A spokesperson for the University of Derby said: “The University has not and would never exclude a student because they wish to continue studying while breastfeeding or caring for children, or because they wished to breastfeed on any of our campuses.

“We have many students who are combining studying with parenthood, and support them in every way we can, including personal support plans tailored to the individual. However, we do not permit babies and children to be brought into teaching sessions, primarily because of the disruption caused to other students.

“We have received complaints from students who have struggled to concentrate on occasions where babies and children have been present. Where students wish to keep their child or baby close and continue to study, we will always work with them to find ways to best support them while being mindful of the need to ensure a good experience and suitable learning environment for all our students.

“We are very supportive of breastfeeding, have facilities on campus to support this, and our position is clearly laid out in our Student Pregnancy, Maternity and Paternity Policy. With regards to this particular case, in line with our procedure, we reviewed Leah’s temporary suspension at the end of the two weeks and wrote to her on 7 December to invite her to a meeting to revisit all the options we have offered her that would allow us to end her suspension and further support her as a student parent, without impacting on the experience of other students and staff.”

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