Pregnant CSUN students may find limited parking on campus to be difficult and straining, but CSUN officials say special accommodations cannot be made.
Jennifer Scott, a nine-month pregnant student, finds that getting to class from a far-off parking place can be a frustrating experience.
“It’s just really challenging,” Scott said, recalling recent efforts of trying to find parking. But waddling her way to class from far-off spaces is the real challenge. She said what was once a five-minute walk now takes about 15 minutes.
Even before the semester began, Scott complained about what she knew would be a handicapped issue. She hoped to find a compromise.
According to parking transportation services, parking for pregnant students is a non-issue. Capt. Alfredo Fernandez of the public safety department said only two complaints have been received from pregnant students in almost as many years.
Fernandez recalled another pregnant student wanting driving services to be provided around campus.
He said such services cannot be provided due to a tight parking crunch and limited personnel.
“I don’t have the accommodations to make special parking privileges on campus. I just don’t have it,” Fernandez said.
As a last resort, Scott contacted the Discrimination and Harassment Grievances office after contacting the parking office. The office then contacted Fernandez and the Department of Motor Vehicles on Scott’s behalf about getting a temporary disabled placard in order to use spaces allotted for disabled students while pregnant.
Scott said she felt the school should be able to designate an area of parking, or at least utilize some of the spaces allotted to disabled students.
In fact, Scott said she received a temporary parking sticker while attending Los Angeles Valley College in the Fall 2005 semester from the school’s disability office, when she was pregnant before.
But using spaces designated for pregnant students is not possible at CSUN, Fernandez said. He also noted that the university is required by law to provide spaces through the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“That’s regulated by law, and we can’t make those accommodations for those spaces. It’s very specific on what we can use for those,” he said.
Professors at CSUN allow Scott to bring pillows to class and use larger desks, so she said she felt the university could do more to accommodate her.
“The school seems to think that pregnancy is an everyday occurrence, and it’s not,” she said, adding that she cannot do the same things she could when she was not pregnant.
Walking on campus is healthy for pregnancy and encouraged by physicians, said Amy Reichbach, a health educator at the Student Health Center.
“Pregnancy is not a disease. It’s not a condition, so you should be exercising,” she said.
Pregnant students who have a difficult time walking around campus because of fatigue or who have conditions like toxemia or pre eclampsia, characterized by hypertension, protein in the urine, and toxins in the blood, should contact their physician for help in getting a temporary disabled placard, she said.
In order to get a disabled parking placard, a physician needs to sign specific forms that the DMV requires. The DMV has guidelines for issuing the placard, said Zulu Ali, a compliance coordinator at the Student Discrimination and Harassment Grievances office who assisted Scott.
“I don’t know,” Ali said when asked if the university should designate special parking for pregnant students, adding that the school may not have the resources and it may be impractical to do so.
Fernandez said pregnant students should discuss with their physician whether or not they are able to handle the rigors of attending school.
“I applaud any student that wants to continue their education, and uphold that, but you know, they need to make those decisions based on their circumstances, and that includes their medical circumstance,” he said.