On Nov. 19, the Post-Graduate Students’ Society of McGill (PGSS) held its first Study Saturday Parents and Kids Program (SSPKP) event of the 2016-2017 school year. The free service allows student parents to drop their children off with volunteer babysitters for up to five hours, assisting parents to study on the weekend.
In an email to The McGill Tribune, PGSS Member Services Officer Jenny Ann Pura explained that the McGill Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (MORSL) initiated the program in 2004. When MORSL no longer had the funds to support Study Sunday in 2014, PGSS took over the project. Although PGSS is the SSPKP’s main organizer, parents pursuing an undergraduate degree are also free to use the program.
“The objective of the program is to provide student parents with an opportunity for quiet study time and is designed to better serve the McGill community,” Pura said.
Pura confirmed that PGSS has teamed up with the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) to move the program from Thomson House to the SSMU building.
“In its evolution, a collaboration was set out by the previous [2015-16] executives of PGSS and SSMU, and only now have the kinks been ironed out,” Pura said. “The plan is to collaborate with Midnight Kitchen to provide the snacks and food.”
SSMU Vice-President (VP) Student Life Elaine Patterson said that PGSS struggled to accommodate parents at Thomson House in past years.
“Thomson House […] isn’t the easiest place to get to,” Patterson said. “[PGSS] reached out to SSMU last year to start hosting this program in the SSMU building. We’ve been working on integrating it more in SSMU and offering it to members of SSMU and PGSS alike. It’s a program that we can now offer to any student parent on campus.”
This Fall marks the second semester that PhD candidate in Educational Studies Haleh Raissadat will use SSPKP to catch up on schoolwork.
“If [the program] happened in the summer, I would definitely be here,” Raissadat said. “I have a little kid and I work full-time. Basically, my only chance to study would be during the night after 10:00 p.m. when I put my kid to bed until 6:00 a.m. The program gave me a chance to study at normal hours and make sure that I’m not putting my child in front of the T.V. all day.”
Educational Studies PhD candidate Constantinos Yanniris noted that with daycare centres closed on weekends, student parents have little time to dedicate to their studies.
“It’s very important for us to find somewhere that, even for once a month, we have this place where we can study,” Yanniris said. “Our weekends are full. For graduate students, there aren’t really holidays and so we really appreciate [the program], especially since we don’t see any other services like this for parents from the McGill administration.”
SSMU and PGSS are currently accepting volunteer applications for the six remaining Study Saturday events. During this academic year, sessions will be held until April 22, 2017.