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WWYD? WOHM's dilemma.

16 replies

youngblowfish · 12/12/2011 11:28

Petty, everyday problem, but here it goes.

To keep the long story short, I need to go to a weekend conference in my old university town 200 miles away. For the sake of context, it is Oxbridge, so not exactly the paragon of equal opportunities. I wanted to book accommodation with my college as it is a lot cheaper and easier than booking it privately, but I need to travel with my 8 month old DS and DH, because I need childcare during the conference and I am still breastfeeding.

The college just sent me an e-mail to say that they do not allow children to stay in guest rooms.

WWYD? Do I just roll over and book private accommodation (more expensive) or try to stay with friends (tricky)? Or write back explaining my circumstances and asking them to reconsider?

OP posts:
TheBrandyButterflyEffect · 12/12/2011 12:00

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

youngblowfish · 12/12/2011 12:05

No, I was not planning to claim expenses. College is inexpensive, central and lovely for sentimental reasons. Might have to book elsewhere.

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Drowz0r · 12/12/2011 12:16

Ifind that a lot with children and pets (and sometimes the writing can suggest children and pets are in the same category in life :/ ).

Just book another place maybe? Do they charge for the guest rooms? Because then you'd just be taking your business else where.

Do babies count as children? Might be worth asking. I understand the rules are generally because people don't watch their kids and they wreck the place... but a breastfeeding baby isn't likely to start drawing over the walls. Maybe if you explained the case to them something can be worked out.

Do you need to go to the conference? Another temptation is to say you can't attend because the guest rooms do not permit you to take your breast feeding baby and you must decline the offer to attend the conference...

Depends what you want out of the situation really.

youngblowfish · 12/12/2011 12:36

Drowz0r, I think I would want them to realise that their rule about guest rooms makes conference attendance for new mothers somewhat difficult, therefore excluding them from the academic community. To that end, I e-mailed them asking to reconsider.

However, I do not really have the time nor the inclination to engage in e-mail ping-pong if they reply with another no, so will probably have to book elsewhere.

I do need to attend the conference (have already paid a small fee) and the college will do perfectly well without my business as well, so no bargaining power there.

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Drowz0r · 12/12/2011 13:08

I suppose pulling the descrimination card is worth a shot, although with a lot of places openly not allowing children, it may prove a little fruitless. Personally I consider not allowing children to be just another form of age descrimination and certainly for breast feeding mothers there are other complications...

If you plan on going to a conference there again, it might be worth some more convincing afterwards, in attempt to help yourself next time, if you're short for time at the moment. A letter (actual letter, not e-mail) of complaint is worth it if you don't get anywhere as well - it could help the next person, if not yourself.

Himalaya · 12/12/2011 15:09

I agree with DrowzOr - probably just book somewhere else and then send them a letter.

Its probably some insurance thing though. I imagine their guest rooms are not up to the same health and safety spec as hotel rooms - with cupboards that are not secured to walls or scalding hot taps or something, so they just make a blanket ruling of 'no children'. On the other hand it wouldn't be that hard for them to have a limited number of rooms with full accessibility for guests with special needs - disability, children etc...

ElderberrySyrup · 12/12/2011 15:16

When I was at college there were a number of flats for couples in the postgraduate block. One PhD student living there with her husband got pregnant and was told she'd have to move out because the flats weren't suitable for a baby.
The graduate community kicked up a fuss and the college thought a bit harder (being sensible people....) and realised there wasn't actually any practical reason why a baby couldn't live there.

azazello · 12/12/2011 15:29

If your own college come back with a 'no' it might be worth asking if any other colleges might be able to make arrangements for the 3 of you to stay. I was at an all-women oxbridge college and we are being actively encouraged to come and visit (and stay) in college with children so they may be able to help.

AlwaysWild · 12/12/2011 16:18

Thanks for sending an email OP. You've done all female academics a favour by not just rolling over. I can see why you can't be arsed with email ping pong, but just mentioning it is helpful.

aubergineinautumn · 12/12/2011 16:23

Doesnt the Equality Act apply here?

They are being discriminatory.

Fillybuster · 12/12/2011 16:36

OP - my college were actually quite surprisingly helpful when I was in the same situation a few years ago. It might help to phone the Bursar/Secretary and have a chat about it, rather than emailing, though....people are often more helpful in person, ifswim.

In my case, they simply decided that DS didn't count as a 'child' (I supplied the cot) for one night; another time, dh's college (at 'the other place') provided us with family accommodation for the same price as standard.


youngblowfish · 12/12/2011 20:00

Thanks for all the helpful and lovely comments and for sharing your experiences.

The porters did not get back to me straight away, so I suspect they passed my request onto someone else. I do hope this is just lack of thought and that given the chance they will reconsider.

This is my first professional outing as a working mother and, although I expected some teething problems with adjusting the work/life balance after having DS, I did not expect the first hurdle to appear quite as promptly as it did.

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forkful · 12/12/2011 23:31

If it is Oxford try This website sells of spare capacity in college rooms. I just had a quick look and there are options to book for children. So maybe you can stay elsewhere for still a reasonable rate.

youngblowfish · 13/12/2011 22:10

Good news, we are all allowed to stay in college as long as we provide a cot for DS and 'take full responsibility for him'. Thank you again for all the helpful advice. I am really glad that I e-mailed them again, I think I will be bolder in negotiating terms that suit me in the future.

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AlwaysWild · 13/12/2011 22:13

Good news! Slightly mystified by their idea that you wouldn't take responsibility for a baby Grin

youngblowfish · 13/12/2011 23:56

I know, until they mentioned responsibility I was just planning to dump DS in the student bar and let him fend for himself Wink.

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