The Columbus Day Family Picnic, held Monday, October 10 from noon to 2 p.m. on the main quad just outside the Administration Building, was a smashing success. Dozens of graduate student families and allies turned out on a beautiful fall day to enjoy lunch together draw attention to the university’s growing need for affordable childcare options.
Columbus Day, a federal holiday, is a day when most Chicago schoolkids have the day off, while their U of C-affiliated parents do not. The picnic, a joint effort of the Student Parents Organization and Graduate Students United, was held to assert the presence of student families as part of the university community and urge the administration to make needed changes to its childcare, healthcare and parental leave policies.
Around 60 people–students, spouses, and children–joined us for lunch on the quad, and dozens more stopped by to sign postcards urging President Zimmer to make the new U of C Childcare Center open and affordable to graduate students and their families. The Child Care Campaign of Graduate Students United also shared copies of its recent report on “Graduate Student Parents and Family Life at the University of Chicago,” which compares the university’s policies with those of peer institutions. (A copy of the report is available in the previous post.)
In addition to postcards and reports, there were a variety of potluck dishes on offer, both savory and sweet. A Ph.D. student in the social sciences was on hand to make balloon animals, which were enjoyed by children under close adult supervision. Sidewalk chalk, crayons, and non-toxic temporary tattoos also formed part of the afternoon’s entertainment.
Thanks very much to all who came out and helped make the day a success! Much more is on the horizon… To get involved, please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.