You’ve tipped us about it for years, and we’ve sort of snickered about it since the dawn of Bwog. So we finally decided to investigate. Why is there a prominently located lactation room in Carman? Are there more? Is this a joke? You have questions, Jon Edelman has answers.
It’s not so much the idea of a lactation room that perplexes us as it is this particular one’s awkward location just off the front desk of Carman. Apparently this little milk-pumping haven is just one of eight others scattered throughout our campus. There are others in Uris, the Law School, the School of Social Work, Studebaker, Mudd and Lamont, but the most popular by far is the one at the CU Medical Center.
The rooms were installed by Columbia’s Office of Work-Life as part of a Breastfeeding Support Program, and in accordance with New York Labor Law 206-C, which requires employers to “provide a reasonable space where an employee can express milk in privacy.” Previously, nursing women at Columbia were relegated to their offices (if they had them), or to bathrooms to breastfeed.
So why on earth would anyone choose a freshman building to “express milk” – and the not-exactly-child-friendly, rowdiest one of them all at that? The placement of the lactation room in Carman was, as always, a matter of availability of space and convenience; Columbia has no secret contingent of nursing freshmen. Although the eight rooms serve over one hundred people, they are frequented most often by administrators, and masters and post-doc students. Undergraduates and professors only make up a tiny percent of the rooms’ patrons.
If for whatever reason you’ve ever tried to get inside, you would know that it’s locked. To gain access, you would have to register with the Office of Work-Life and obtain their super secret code, which changes every so often. So unless they happen to involve nursing mothers, rumors about sexcapades in the lactation room of Carman are most probably false. Each lactation room is impressively pimped out with a table, chair, and one or more “hospital-grade” breast pump. They have sinks and decorations, including bulletin boards for photos of the users’ children, racks of parenting magazines, and some have refrigerators (though the one in Carman doesn’t).
We are told that responses to the program thus far have been excellent, and the Office of Work-Life is seeking to expand it, so don’t be surprised to see even more lactation locations in the future.
Photo via flickr