There are a number of very serious issues that a student may be faced with during their time of study: the death of a friend or fellow resident, problems such as depression or financial uncertainty. Pregnancy may be one of these very serious issues. It may not necessarily be taboo but there is no real way of knowing how the expecting mother feels walking the corridors of her res. So what happens if you fall pregnant while staying in res?
The Residence Affairs and Accommodation TuksRes Guide states that the pregnant student can continue staying in res until the 34th week of pregnancy. But after that she needs to organise alternative accommodation. The pregnant student can keep her room vacant until the baby is born. However, the student will still have to pay the normal accommodation fees for a period of three months or the room will be given to someone else. “The policy shouldn’t encourage the students to get pregnant. Instead, it should support the student,” said Bes Liebenberg, Coordinator of Student Support for Residences.
The university assigns a coordinator to the pregnant student to support her and to provide the necessary information to enable her to make an informed decision about her pregnancy. The coordinator’s job, apart from offering emotional support, also includes informing the student about healthcare options, alternative accommodation and issues like HIV/Aids. Students also have access to Student Support services at theStudentAffairsBuildingat absolutely no cost. Student Support also offers counselling for the father of the baby if he is a student at Tuks.
Perdeby spoke to two HKs from Huis Erika, Adila Jallae and Mine Labuschagne, about the dynamics of having one of their own fall pregnant.
“We are a close group of girls and we do not discriminate against each other no matter the circumstances but even so, girls aren’t forthcoming about pregnancy,” said Adila Jallae. “But when we do find out there is someone pregnant, we give her our full support,” said Jallae. Mine Labuschagne added, “The HKs don’t have to know about someone’s pregnancy. She doesn’t have to tell us, but by university rules, she has to tell the house parents and that’s who we find out from. We help to better handle the situation and to offer support and non-judgement at all times to make her comfortable.”
Shalita Magerman, the administration assistant at Student Support for Residences, said: “Some of them are very vulnerable and embarrassed because they are young and sometimes get rejected by the fathers of their unborn children, but we offer counselling to help them through the ordeal. We are here to help. The support system makes sure these girls are treated well while they are here, regarding health and we make sure they have a place to stay.”
Photo: Esther van Eeden