Fabian DeSoto

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Students and other members of the Downtown UTSA campus are petitioning for on-campus childcare. This fraction of students has started a Facebook petition called “UTSA Downtown Campus Matters Too.”

Many students at the downtown campus struggle to find childcare while juggling class and keeping obligations. The exhaustion of balancing an education with parenthood is what led social work graduate student Bianca Ramirez to organize herself and other student-parents to call on the university to expand services.

Anne Folmar, an administrative associate at the Child Development Center, the non-profit entity that provides childcare on the main campus, explains that the tuition they collect operates like an advance. Annually, a portion of students’ tuition is allocated towards operational costs at the center. The non-profit then charges parents a monthly fee of $609 for children aged 6 weeks to 35 months and $562 for children aged three to five years. They then use that money to reimburse the university.

Beyond the economics, Ramirez explains that alleviation is the reason this service is desperately needed.

For her, it is a personal, as well as group issue. She explains, “Being a single mother is one of the most challenging things I have ever endured; it is not easy trying to balance parenting and student-obligations at the same time while also working to support your family.”

Once upon a time, that lack of relief almost derailed her education. Ramirez explains that although she now has some support with childcare during her classes, in the past she did not.

“It was very difficult trying to focus on my classes and homework. I can honestly say that if it was not for child care I probably would not be in graduate school right now or have a bachelor’s degree,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez is not alone in expressing exasperation.  The reality for student-parents bears a common thread of difficulty.

IMG_0909Bisrat Sium, a social work student at the downtown campus explains what it is like to lack campus support.

“It was very difficult during my first semester here at the downtown campus. There are not many child-care centers and it was a challenge for me to find someone to care for my daughter while I went to school.  There were times I had to bring my daughter to presentation panels or classes so I could attend,” she expressed.

Another student, Armando Fernandez, is anxious to see something done. “It would be great to have child care on campus. My wife and I are both students at UTSA and we have to take turns taking care of our son when we go to our classes,” Fernandez said. “Trying to balance being a student, work, and family is hard in itself and this would be a great way to remove some of the barriers that come with being a student-parent.”

The childcare Ramirez and others are pushing for connects back to earnest ambitions and efforts at self-betterment for themselves and their children.

“I wanted to go to graduate school to further my education, advance my career and make a better life for my son and me,” Ramirez said.

To make these hopes a reality, student-parents are calling on the university to make things equal.

A Downtown Campus Task Force has been commissioned to address these sorts of demands. Andrew Hubbard, SGA representative and member of the Downtown Campus Task Force is aware of the issue, but states that they do not have anything concrete at this moment.

President Romo’s office is also aware of the demands, but explains in an interview with KSAT that the main campus comprises ninety-three percent of the population and the downtown campus only comprises seven percent.

Joe Izbrand, UTSA’s chief communications officer, in the same interview expresses that the administration is “welcome to the opportunity to continue those discussions.”

At the moment, the disparity remains.

“Many students feel that it is unfair because we pay the same tuition and yet do not have access to many of the same services offered at the main campus,” says Ramirez.

That is why she organized “Downtown Campus Matters Too”. Ramirez feels that student voices hold a lot of power and students should advocate for significant issues like this.

The group will be holding a rally on Wednesday, Feb 3. from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Sombrilla Plaza at the Main Campus.

For more information on how to sign their petition and show support, visit and like their Facebook page.

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