Completing college is a challenge in itself, but when a student also has the responsibility of being a parent, that challenge is compounded. Parents of Western wants other student parents of Western Illinois University to join because it offers support and is in the process of advocating for change.POW was founded by senior social work major Elizabeth Wright. Wright, a mother of one, serves as the president and said the organization is about making changes for families here at Western.
“A lot of (students) don’t realize that there are a lot of mothers and fathers and children on this campus,” Wright said. “We are tucked away in the buildings off campus (Lamoine Village and East Village), and we are forgotten in a lot of ways.”
She added, “I felt like we needed a group, especially a mothers’ support group.”
Activities and services geared toward those students with children are just a few of the changes for which the group is advocating.
“Many of the activities and services at WIU relate to traditional students,” Wright said. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but we as members of POW would like more kid-friendly activities on campus, daycare at both the library and recreation center and transportation to the daycare facilities by the Go West bus.”
Meredith Juba, junior criminal law major and mother of one, recently moved to Macomb to attend Western. Juba currently serves as the secretary of POW, and feels like she is not alone as she raises her child while attending college.
“It’s an excellent way to meet people who are in my position, and I hope that it continues to grow,” Juba said. “We need the support of others and we need our time.”
According to Juba, POW currently has 29 members. Each member pays $10 every semester for dues and the group meets every two weeks.
Krystal Scott, sophomore law enforcement and justice administration major, is also a new student at Western and is glad that there is a group like POW that she can turn to.
“I’m not by myself with a child,” said Scott, the mother of a 16-month-old daughter. “We can all relate and get our stresses out. We can also have fun with our kids. It makes it all much easier.”
Wright urges other Western students who are parents to bring their children and join POW.
“Women, especially mothers, are looked at as having it all together and sometimes it’s hard to keep it all together,” Wright said. “POW is an outlet to talk and share, without feeling like we’re being judged. Maybe we can make a change. We’re not going to let up until people hear us, that’s the plan.”
The group’s next meeting will be Oct. 14 at 3 p.m. in the East Village activity room. There will be a discussion on resources available for moms and kids in Macomb and childcare will be provided.
POW is encouraging all members to participate in “Cans Across America” Oct. 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The group will join other Western students at Sherman Hall as they make their way across campus to Q-lot collecting canned goods from the residence halls. All of the canned goods collected will be donated to the local food pantry.
There will be a Halloween Party on Oct. 31 at 6 p.m. in the East Village and then the group will go trick or treating at 7 p.m.
On Nov. 11 there will be a Thanksgiving potluck in the East Village activity room, and names will be drawn for the children’s Christmas gift exchange.
On Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. there will be a Christmas party and the children’s gift exchange.