Child care plan fails
to consider community
The Board of Regents will decide this week whether to approve the proposed University Child Care Center. Though members of the Faculty Senate sing its praises, the new facility is merely another example of the University's increasing competition with private industry.
As it stands, apartment owners are threatened by a proposal to build apartment-style residence halls, the Rec Center has ruined business for local gym owners and now the University wants to get in the child care business. The Regents should not approve a facility which will provide little benefit and possibly cost local workers their jobs.
The Faculty Senate resolution said the new service would be cheaper and closer to campus than other area day-care centers. The resolution passed by the Student Senate left out the claim of lower prices because it is not true. Although the center's fee would be competitive, it would not be much less than other providers in the area. A quick jaunt through the yellow pages shows that the proposed location will not provide a large proximity advantage, because many local churches bordering campus provide day-care also.
The Student Senate approved the resolution because the new center would guarantee available child care for a certain number of children of faculty and students. This requirement means the center may not always be filled to capacity. If another provider has better or cheaper service, many of those guaranteed slots may remain empty, which would cause higher prices at the University's center.
Drafters of the proposal point out it has become standard for many large universities to offer free or subsidized child care for faculty members, but those universities usually offer free football tickets and parking as well Ð neither of which is in Texas A&M's foreseeable future.
In anticipation of the Regents' decision, the Student Service Fee Allocation Board allotted $10,000 for the Child Care Center to provide scholarships for the children of students. Now everyone from married students to GLBA members are expected to pay for the child care of a few Aggies' children. A group of student senators have been trying to secure privately sponsored scholarships, but some students cannot pass up a chance to increase fees.
Given the size of A&M compared to the surrounding community, a large number of businesses exist solely to support the University, its staff and its students. When the University expands into private industry, it often carries a negative impact on the community.
If the University is so intent on insuring child care for the families of faculty and students, they should at least consider subsidizing an existing provider. By using a local center, private industry will receive some sort of encouragement. It makes more sense to give money to an entrepreneur than for the University to open a small business of its own.
From a social point of view, the thought of contracting out the rearing of children is an ugly notion. Children should be considered a priority. They are not pets to be left in a kennel, but budding individuals to be taught and cherished. Although child-care providers work hard and are devoted, it is difficult for them to provide a large number of children the same level of care a child would receive from its own parent.
Even casting aside the moral arguments, the proposal is bad business and bad economics. The advantages to the University are negligible, but the impact on Bryan/College Station is potentially devastating.
If the University Child Care Center isn't approved, who knows what will happen to the $10,000 in Student Service Fee money.