A woman has been told she cannot breastfeed her baby on campus at one of the world’s most prestigious art schools.
Jasmijn Toffano, a student at Central Saint Martins, initially thought there would be no problem bringing her newborn daughter to classes, but said the college reversed just days before her course started, leaving her struggling to find childcare. children and fulfill her obligations.
She is now campaigning to get every university in the UK to provide places where parents can look after their children on or near campus.
“What I would like to see in the future is that students who have children don’t have to leave university because of a lack of support… I think we can make a change and it’s not impossible,” he said.
Toffano, 29, and her husband, Riccardo Mangiapelo, are in talks with the college, whose alumni include Stella McCartney, Louise Wilson, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen and which is part of the University of the Arts London (UAL). All parties have shown a willingness to work together to find a reasonable solution.
The pair suggested that, in the long term, higher education institutions are supported to either provide on-campus nursery space or partner with established local nurseries to provide affordable childcare for students and staff: “This should be a model for all universities and be supported by the government to help universities and students and staff meet the costs.’
The problem arose just before Toffano was to return to her graphic communication classes this academic year. According to the Times, she told staff in January that she was pregnant, revisited the matter with them over the summer and was under the impression there would be no problem with her plan to breastfeed her two-month-old daughter Chloe on campus.
But that message changed two days before he was due to return. As a short-term solution, while Toffano’s husband was on paternity leave, he traveled with her and spent the day at a cafe with the baby, with Toffano nursing between lectures.
Now, however, the couple will have to find a nanny to look after Chloe until she’s old enough to take her nursery school. A deal Toffano said would force her to abandon her plan to breastfeed.
UAL decided that systematically having a child on campus would be against its policy. The university said: “Our campuses are full of specialist equipment and machinery which creates a potentially dangerous environment for children and babies. Currently, our health and safety policy and safeguards do not allow infants or children on campus, except for short exceptional visits. This means that the university is unable to facilitate access for children and infants on a regular basis as we cannot guarantee their safety.
“We have apologized to Ms Toffano for the conflicting information she received in the first instance and the time it took her to gain clarity on the matter. This should not have happened and we are sorry for the distress it caused. We recognize that we can do more to provide better facilities for carers and this is something we are actively involved in improving. UAL will review its current policies in light of this case.
“We have offered Mrs Toffano access to a private room and fridge to allow her to express milk and we will work with her to ensure it is suitable for her needs. Our priority is to ensure that Ms Toffano can complete her course and we are in contact with her to discuss what adjustments can be made to support her.”