University gives birth to new pregnancy policy

WITS students who are pregnant are being requested to leave res by the time they are eight months along, according to several students.

Second-year student Mbali Ngcobo*, who is four months pregnant, said she was told by her res matron that she would have to leave her residence before she gives birth.

“I understand why I must leave, some people are dramatic and if I give birth in res it could be traumatic for some students,” she said.

Ngcobo’s experience is not unique according to several female students who have had friends who also had to leave residence after they had gotten far along in their pregnancies.

While Ngcobo said leaving res will be difficult and may impact her studies, she has made peace with this. She is hoping to give birth during September holidays and then return to Wits to take her exams in October.

image of pregnant student

GROWING BELLY ISSUES: Wits students are being asked to leave res at 8 months of their pregnancy,in line with a new policy under discussion Photo: Wits Vuvuzela

 

Ngcobo said she has the support of her family. However, they are not from Johannesburg and are unable to give her much practical support. She plans on moving in with a friend when she leaves residence.

Doreen Musemwa, assistant registrar of East campus residences, would not comment on the allegation that pregnant students are told to leave res when their eight months into term. She said a new policy is still under development and is “aimed at protecting the university and the university community, staff and students alike”.

“How the mother copes with all of this will also then impact on her academic career.”

Shameen Naidu of the Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU) could not confirm how many students at Wits are pregnant. However, she said having a baby while a student could be difficult.

“They may have to leave their infant with a family member, it may be psychologically distressing for both the mother and the baby,” Naidu said.

“How the mother copes with all of this will also then impact on her academic career.”

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to other healthcare professionals on campus who said they don’t believe that the forthcoming policy is meant to be punitive.

Yvonne Matimba, head of Campus Health, said she cannot comment on the pregnancy policy as it is still being discussed. However, she said Campus Health does offer a variety of contraceptive methods for free.

*Names have been changed at the request of the individual

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