By Maggie Callahan, Senior Staff Writer
At its Feb. 22 meeting, the Miami University Senate reviewed a bill to approve the policy for allowing minors, or anyone under the age of 18 who does not attend or has not been accepted to attend Miami, on campus. The policy, put in place by Miami University’s General Counsel, has been active for years, but was never approved by University Senate.
“As far as I know, I’ve been breaking the rule for years,” said Leah Wasburn-Moses, a Miami professor of educational psychology who has three children between the ages of 7 and 15.
Maria Cronley, secretary of University Senate, said a motion was made to remove the bill from the consent calendar to allow senators more time to review and discuss the parts of the policy.
The policy outlines guidelines and rules as to how minors must be supervised on campus. According to the policy written by Miami University GeneraCounsel, no minor under the age of 14 can be left alone. Also, residents in the residence halls are not allowed to monitor minors in their rooms, but minors are allowed to accompany a parent to work only on a “bring your child to work” day. Furthermore, the policy suggests that children with child care emergencies should be left at home.
The minors on campus policy states, “Miami is not in a position to provide emergency child care, and no university space is to be used as an alternative to child care.”
The purpose, according to the policy, is to keep minors, a “particularly vulnerable population,” safe and to deter any concern. The policy was also set in place in order to protect university individuals from being falsely accused of abuse.
However, for Wasburn-Moses, this policy takes it too far.
“I think this stems from what happened at Penn State,” Wasburn-Moses said. “They are trying to avoid a tragedy, which is commendable, but in my opinion, don’t ban children.”
In 2011, Penn State University football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was accused and later convicted of sexually abusing 10 young boys over a span of 15 years. Penn State paid more than $60 million in settlements to the victims’ families and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
“The Penn State case was a genesis for universities across the nation. We realized there was a hole there that needed to be filled,” said Deputy General Counsel Mitchell McCrate.
Wasburn-Moses, who was notified about the University Senate bill from a colleague, reached out to General Counsel with concerns about the policy, but she never received a response.
Wasburn-Moses is concerned with the lack of flexibility for professors and parents alike, as it can be very difficult to find a babysitter, as well as the environment this policy will create on campus. She thinks many professors enjoy taking their children to work and she doesn’t want to see that change.
“I don’t want to be in a workplace where children aren’t welcome. It’s disconcerting that the university is not welcoming to children,” said Wasburn-Moses.
Although this policy has been set in place for years, Wasburn-Moses continues to bring her children to campus and has never been notified that she was breaking any rules. This policy will not stop her from taking her children to Miami, but she credits that to her job security and tenure and believes that newer professors might not want to bring their children to work because of this policy.
“I feel comfortable bringing my kids to campus, but I don’t feel as comfortable as I did before,” said Wasburn-Moses.
She hopes that changes can be made to the policy and believes that it will greatly impact the atmosphere on campus.
“This is a public place. It is supposed to be opening and welcoming to everyone….I’ve always felt like my children were welcome, you don’t want that to go away.”