[Parentsgroup-list] Welcome new members, and greetings to old

wenc at fas.harvard.edu wenc at fas.harvard.edu
Wed Nov 22 12:38:05 EST 2006

Dear old and new parents' group members,

Now that the semester is almost over, I thought I'd get around to saying Hello!

Based on the information provded at registration this year, we just added more
than 200 members to the list--so seems like a good time to establish, again,
who we are and what we are trying to do.  (Our total list membership is now 377
people, which is fantastic.)  For those of you who were just added, you had
indicated that you were interested in information on grad student parents at
Harvard.  (If you want to be removed from this list, just let me know.)

To new members: This is the "parentsgroup" list, the place where grad student
parents can air concerns about parenting and Harvard, advertise baby/kid stuff,
ask for baby/kid stuff, offer to share a nanny or babysitter, start a
babysitting trade, pass along housing information, and discuss anything else
that seems fit for an email list filled with grad student parents.

The name of this group this list serves is the GSAS Grad Student Parents
Organization.  However, the only reason we used "GSAS" is because there is
actually no way to have an official student group at Harvard that involves more
than one school.  But this group DOES have members from all schools, and any
grad student or postdoc at Harvard is welcome to join.

Although the goals of this organization are partly social--being a grad student
parent can be a quite isolating experience, and we definitely want student
parents to connect with each other--we also have an activist agenda.

Grad students at many other universities have access to free or very inexpensive
child care, child care scholarships, subsidized family housing, and in a few
places even stipends and fully-paid health insurance for partners and
dependents.  (Check out UC-Berkeley's offerings, for instance, if you want to
get depressed.)  Harvard, and the rest of the Ivy League, however, offer
nothing, or next to nothing, to support grad student parents.  In a place like
Boston/Cambridge, where both housing and child care costs are among the highest
in the country, this can make life very difficult for grad student parents.

This group has existed for about 2 years, and in that time we have helped to get
health insurance costs for dependents reduced, and have been instrumental in
keeping student access to family dental insurance.  We have completed our first
report on the situation of grad student parents and shared it with all the GSAS
deans and the acting President of Harvard, Derek Bok.  We have also been
instrumental in the movement toward getting grad student parents access to
child care scholarships, though that hasn't been moving as quickly as we'd

So, please stay tuned to further developments in these areas.  We will also be
planning some social events for grad student parents after the holidays, so keep
an eye out for that.  And we hope to have a few other helpful events in the
spring, such as a meeting with Fellowships director Cynthia Verba on how to
write grant applications when you've had a major life event interrupt your

Welcome, everyone, to the group, and I hope you all have a good holiday weekend.

Christine Wenc, co-chair, GSAS Grad Student Parents Organization
G5, history of science, and mom to Milo, aged 3.5

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