Westminster College recently introduced a new lounge in the lower level of the Giovale Library designated for nursing mothers, as required by federal law.
Westminster’s Staff Council looked to address the need for new mothers who spend their days on campus to have a designated space. The lounge is a protected space that is available to anyone on campus, including guests, to use for nursing purposes.
“Soon, it will be on a card reader and people will have to request access,” said Laura Iverson, the chair of Westminster’s Staff Council. She noted there will be a scheduling software to allow people to reserve specific time frames that work with their personal schedules.
Employers are required under Section 7(r) of the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide a reasonable break time and a place other than a bathroom for nursing mothers to pump breast milk after the birth of a child.
Utah’s workplace lactation law, H.B. 242, was adopted in 2015 and requires public employers to adopt policies supporting breastfeeding in addition to those FLSA requirements from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Before settling in Giovale Library room 033, new mothers who needed to pump, like alumna McKenna Barber, were directed to empty office spaces in the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business.
“Because there wasn’t a designated area, sometimes my pumping area was across campus and I would have to leave classes early or go to my next class late for enough time to pump,” Barber said. “Sometimes, I would be pumping in a classroom in Malouf and students would walk in on me and it would just be awkward.”
Robert Allred, the associate provost of Internet Services, helped find an appropriate space to build the lounge.
“It sends a message that we’re supportive of women who choose to nurse,” Allred said. “There’s signage and no ambiguity around ‘Where can I nurse?’”
The lounge offers a sink, a comfortable chair, a sound machine, a refrigerator, a changing table and a television.
“Netflix and pump: that’s what I call it,” Iverson said.
The college plans to release an updated campus map that includes the nursing lounge to ensure it’s visible and accessible for students, faculty, staff and guests.