Equity for Student Parents: Toward Academic Culture and Policy Change

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Esau, Erin
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Mount Saint Vincent University
This thesis discusses the experiences of undergraduate student parents with university policies and expectations; the factors that affect their experiences; and recommendations to make universities more accessible and inclusive. Data was collected from the websites of seven Nova Scotia universities and through an online asynchronous text-based focus group. The methodological and theoretical framework is based on Intersectionality-based Policy Analysis, Institutional Ethnography, and Ethic of Care. I argue that the effects of systems of oppression are a large factor in student parent experiences and that attempting to address the hardships that many student parents share without attention to structural forces and differential impacts limits the effectiveness of solutions. Recommendations include policy changes to acknowledge the diversity of students and their circumstances, more accessible social activities and events, and an expansion of childcare supports, as well as cultural changes to begin addressing unwritten rules and assumptions.
Student parents, university policy, Nova Scotia