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Global Student Stories: The University of Chile creates new support scheme for student parents

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In the latest instalment of student stories from around the globe, Sarah Morland takes a look at parenting schemes in Chile, student accommodation punishments in China, a return to traditional graduation gowns in India and LGBT+ accommodation in America.

Chile: University of Chile to launch support scheme for student parents

The University of Chile has approved pre-and-postnatal plans for its students, which are set to become available to men as well as women. It will be available for any regular student who is pregnant or a parent, or guardian, of child younger than six.

The scheme was brought about by the university’s Office for Equal Gender Opportunities, directed by Carmen Andrade, together with local students and academics.

The scheme allows for resting periods around the date of birth as well as up to 24 weeks of postnatal leave, the first half of which can only be taken by the mother. Nursery rooms are also being set up in four of the universities’ campuses, while parents will be allowed flexibility on academic assignments and priority on class applications, to help them manage their time commitments.

Estefanía Álvarez, director of a group for parents at universities, said: “It was very complicated to make studies comparable with raising a child. It was difficult to follow my [university] timetable because it didn’t coincide with the times at the day-nursery, or if one of [my children] was ill and I had a test.”

China: University makes students clean up after opposite sex as punishment for skipping classes

First-year male fashion students at Wuhan International Culture University in central China are being made to clean the dorms of their female classmates, as punishment for skipping classes.

The Chutian Metropolis Daily shared photos of three students cleaning a female dorm on its blog. The students reportedly scrubbed floors, dusted furniture and even cleaned the toilets.

The university’s college counsellor, Cui Bowen, told the newspaper: “If students want to skip class, their classmates will remind them of this rule.”

Female student Sun Haoran commented that: “I won’t skip class in future – I don’t want to clean the boys’ stinky bathrooms!”

While the university’s new rule has sparked online debate, it has come under fire from some who fear the measure could encourage promiscuity.

One critic said that being forced to go into the female dorms could well be “just what some of them have been hoping for.” Another suggested that the next year’s intake was likely to be “a class full of boys”.

India: Uttarakhand University to replace graduation gowns with cultural attire

Students graduating next year at the Sri Dev Suman Uttarakhand University in Garwhal will be wearing cultural attire, according to the state’s Higher Education Minister Dhan Singh Rawat.

The Education Minister announced that the new dress and caps will reflect regional culture and would be designed by the National Institute of Fashion Technology.

This came not long after Uttarakhand’s chief minister Trivendra Rawat refused to wear the traditional British-style gown at a university convocation in Dehradun and suggested introducing a “purely Indian attire”.

Meanwhile, in a push to eliminate the “colonial tradition”, students at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur graduated last week in ethnic attire for the first time: kurta pyjamas for male students and kurta-churidaars for women.

USA: University of Kansas introduces residential halls for LGBT students

The University of Kansas is dedicating a wing of its residential halls to LGBT+ students and their allies. The wing, Lewis Hall, will cater specifically to LGBT people as well as genderfluid students.

Whilst previously, university housing teams have worked on a case-by-case basis to organise students with non-traditional gender profiles, the new system will sort students regardless of gender identity or sexual preference.

Student housing director Diana Roberston said that the new system means that there are “no questions asked”. The housing website further adds: “Our commitment is to helping students find the living environment that best meets their needs whilst affirming their gender identity.”

Students at the dorm, which already has a waiting list, can stay provided they agree to follow special regulations regarding behaviour and privacy.

A growing number of universities in the US also now offer gender-neutral housing options.

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