Jenna Crook gave birth to her two boys while studying at Concordia University in Montreal. She says juggling motherhood and course work was difficult, but the school made it even more complicated.
“To have doors closed on me because I decided to have children is really difficult,” Crook told Global News.
Pregnant with her firstborn in 2017, she asked the university if it had a policy to allow newborns in the classroom.
“The response was, no, there is no policy but that it was strongly discouraged. And they recommended that I defer,” said Crook.
She was disappointed again four years later, pregnant with her second child. Concordia still had no updated policy. She was still not allowed to breastfeed her infant in class.
“My husband actually would drive to the school. I would go to the car and breastfeed in the car with my husband,” she said.
Nourri-Source Montreal’s executive director Sophie Morel, says women have the right to breastfeed anywhere, anytime. If not, it’s discrimination on the basis of sex.
“It shouldn’t be a choice moms have to (make). Why should their career be on hold or their professional development be on hold, all just because they gave birth?” asks Morel.
Crook and the Student Union Advocacy Centre filed a complaint against the university in March. They want Concordia to create a policy that allows breastfeeding, similar to McGill and York universities.
“There’s a place for everybody in every situation in our education systems now,” said Crook.
Morel also says Concordia should create a breastfeeding policy, asserting “breastfeeding is normal and it’s permitted, allowed anywhere, anytime because it’s right for the baby and the mother.”
In an email to Global News, a Concordia spokesperson writes: “we have quiet spaces that students can use to breastfeed and can provide students with pedagogical content missed during breastfeeding outside the classroom. We are also working on an online information hub for all parents in the Concordia community which should include guidelines on breastfeeding.”
Now graduated, Crook plans to continue to hold Concordia accountable, in order to help other women succeed as mothers and students.