Dealing with Pregnancy at Colgate

Steph Tanguay

Pregnancy is not a widely discussed topic on campus, or one that many students consider when “hooking up” during weekend exploits, but it is a reality that some students face. Colgate can help parents before and after the child is born, ensuring that it is possible to be both a student and parent while attending Colgate.

Senior student Trevor Daly and his girlfriend, graduate student Shamina Chasteen ’05 discovered they were pregnant during Trevor’s sophomore year and Shamina’s junior year. Chasteen is currently working towards a Masters degree in teaching at Colgate.

“When we found out she was pregnant, there was never really any question that we were both going to try to finish school,” Daly said. “It was just something that we both wanted to do, so we knew we would just have to find ways to make it work,” Daly said. “Of course it’s been hard to find time to do work and fit things into our schedule, but we expected it to be like that and we’ve done our best to get through it.”

Both Daly and Chasteen’s lives have changed dramatically since finding out that they were going to have a baby. Both sacrificed extra-curricular activities such as the pep band, of which both students were members.

Daly and Chasteen’s son Isaiah was born in December of 2004.

“Our social lives have obviously changed because we just don’t have free time to go out anymore,” Daly said. “It’s hard to find a babysitter if we want to go out together, and we’re really too busy to have time to do that anyway.”

“Each year there are hundreds of women, and almost as many men, who come in [to the Health Center] for testing or to purchase supplies,” Adjunct Professor of the Health Sciences and Director of Student Health Services Dr. Merrill Miller said. “Also, each year we have at least several women who become pregnant because they (or their partner) didn’t use contraception, they used it incorrectly or because the method failed. Not all methods are equally effective.”

Chasteen used the Health Center facilities, and was referred to an excellent staff of obstetricians here in Hamilton. Her files were faxed back and forth between her doctors in Hamilton and those located in her hometown as she traveled during the academic year.

“For someone who is pregnant, we discuss withher the many options available; she gets to make the choice that’s right for her,” Miller said. “Each year we have men and women who have decided to continue with pregnancies and others who chose a safe and legal termination procedure. Others have chosen to consider working with an adoption agency as another option. Whichever decision a student makes is his or her choice and does not impact the student’s ability to attend Colgate.”

This year, Daly and Chasteen have decided to use the daycare and nursery facilities in Hamilton to help juggle their busy schedules. The Chenango Nursery School in Hamilton is subsidized by Colgate and takes children as young as six weeks old.

“It was actually the manager of the daycare that suggested we contact financial aid to see if they would help us,” Daly said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have know that was even an option.

Currently the Financial Aid Office is paying for Isaiah’s daycare.

Daly and Chasteen also consulted their deans. They were urged to get permission from Campus Safety to park up the hill during classes, in order to make transportation to classes and back to Isaiah as quick and accessible as possible.

An important factor in Colgate’s accommodations for pregnant students is providing them with options for living arrangements. According to Director of Residential Life Tim Mansfield, he and his staff are dedicated to working individually with all students to best make the student’s living arrangement work.

“While Colgate does not permit a dependent [child] to live in University housing, it is certainly permitted to both be a Colgate student and have a child,” Mansfield said.

Mansfield worked with Daly and Chasteen, considered their particular situation, and allowed Daly to live off campus as a junior, making an exception to a University rule.

“It was Timothy Mansfield, in Residential Life, who I contacted to get permission to live off campus and for some help finding an apartment, although we ended up finding cheaper apartments on our own,” Daly said.

It is a widespread misconception that all off-campus housing costs more than University housing. Often, landlords will contact Residential Life and determine their rent based on room and board costs. There is affordable housing available for students with a child, even though they are not permitted to live on campus.

“In terms of unprotected sex and the possibility of unexpected pregnancies, I advise students to seriously think about how their behavior and choices will affect their college experience,” Mansfield said. “Whatever personal decision that student decides, the Colgate staff is here to work individually and creatively to best accommodate that student.”

While Daly and Chasteen contacted each of these faculty members and received willing help with their pregnancy, there are still other programs offered by Colgate that can help pregnant students and couples.

The pool offers a water-exercise program, specifically geared towards pregnant women, that is a very safe way to exercise during pregnancy.

In addition, the Sexual Consultation Resource Center (SCRC), the Counseling Center and the Chaplain’s office are available for guidance or simply support while a student is making this life-changing decision.

“My advice for other people who find themselves in this same situation is to remember that it is important to ask as many different people as you can for help, because it’s hard to know what is out there,” Daly said. “We never would have thought Financial Aid would pay for daycare unless someone had suggested we ask. I can’t remember anyone really turning us down any request for help.”