Heroic student ends pregnancy discrimination at her alma mater
|Kamaria and Ryann; photo via Public Justice|
Kamaria Downs, the heroine of today’s blog, is a graduate of Claflin University… despite Claflin’s outrageous attempt to derail her senior year:
In 2015, when officials at Claflin University in South Carolina learned senior honors student Kamaria Downs was pregnant, they kicked her out of the dorms and told her to move off campus.
“I was taken aback,” the now 23-year-old elementary school teacher from Greenville told NBC News. “First, I wasn’t even sure how they found out, and second, they were not offering me any type of housing.”
For Downs, who had pre-paid for her dorm room and meal plan, living at home more than two and a half hours away from her Orangeburg school wasn’t an option. So she ended up living with a professor, and wasn’t refunded for her dorm costs.
But after graduation, she fought against the discriminatory policy at the small historically black college — and won.
Downs defied the school’s implicit structural pressure to have an abortion and is raising her daughter, Ryann. Claflin University settled the case quickly and altered its policies:
Claflin University, which is affiliated with the Methodist Church, had prohibited pregnant students from living in the dorm after their first trimester. It also required pregnant students to submit medical documentation not required of other students under a doctor’s care. …
… Claflin spokesman George Johnson Jr. told NBC News that the university “appreciates” Downs for “bringing her concerns to our attention” and its new policy is “consistent with our ethical commitment to treat everyone equitably and respectfully.”
It’s noteworthy that Claflin is a Methodist college. The Methodist Church is a pro-abortion denomination, but has taken some steps in the right direction recently. Claflin’s new understanding that it has a moral obligation to accommodate student parents is encouraging.
Also encouraging: Feminists for Life reports that it has reached out to Claflin to help it implement appropriate policies. FFL is a leader on this issue, having hosted pregnancy resource forums on campuses across the country for close to twenty years. If your school is discriminating against pregnant/parenting students, or even if it isn’t but you want to improve your school’s resources, we encourage you to contact FFL and/or Students for Life of America’s Pregnant on Campus initiative.
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