SFA drafts new workplace policy after complaints of disruptive children

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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KETK) – Stephen F. Austin State University will be presenting a new policy regarding children in the workplace to the board of regents.

A recent article by the Texas Tribune had many SFA administrators scratching their heads.

The publication wrote SFA would “restrict when children could be on campus” and “it hurts working parents.”

However, the university says this is not true.

“There was a false impression that we were banning children from SFA’s campus. Obviously human resources doesn’t control the entire campus. It has some authority of employees but not the campus as a whole,” said Loretta Doty, SFA Human Resources Director. “That was never the intention of the policy.”

Doty says she initiated the policy in response to “several complaints” from staff employees and managers about children who were being disruptive on campus.

She looked at policies from other universities and wrote a draft similar based on her research.

“We started hearing rumors about a policy and so we eventually contacted Loretta Doty and she provided the policy right away,” said Dr. Jeremy Stovall, SFA Professor of Forestry and SFA Faculty Senate Chair.

Eventually, it went to the faculty senate committee. The committee consists entirely of volunteers, many of whom have children who are routinely on campus. The group reviewed it and made their own modifications.

“They really worked with us a lot and the resulting policy, I think, is fairly common sense as a result of the input we were allowed to have,” said Dr. Stovall.

The three-page policy is very simple with guidelines such as:

  1. Minor children remain the sole responsibility of the SFA employee that is the child’s parent or caregiver including the supervision of the child while the child is on campus. No other SFA employee should be asked or expected to supervise a child while the employee is on university time.
  2. The presence of a minor child cannot disrupt the workplace.
  3. Minor children not participating in SFA sponsored activities are prohibited from areas where significant potential safety hazards or liabilities exist and where strict safety precautions are required. These areas might include, but are not limited to, storage rooms, equipment rooms, and certain athletic facilities such as training rooms, courts, fountains, swimming pools, playing fields, and laboratories.
  4. Employees may not bring minor children to campus as a substitute for regular childcare.

The policy defines a minor child “as any individual under the age of 13.”

As written:

“(The policy) is to support the university’s commitment to fostering a healthy balance between workplace obligations and family. The university welcomes young children and families to the campus while at the same time providing guidelines to protect the safety of children in the workplace and to maintain a professional workplace environment.”

“At SFA we value … balancing family obligation with workplace, we try to balance that when we can,” said Doty. “Our primary goal is to make sure that we achieve the mission of our organization which is educating students and doing research.”

SFA has a charter school located next door where many children of faculty and staff attend.

SFA employee Katie Blevins, who works in an office in the campus recreation center, has two children who attend school there.

“I feel that my kids are welcome in the campus recreation, the recreation center facility, and they’ve always been welcomed on campus,” said Katie Blevins.

Before the policy was written, Blevins already followed the third guideline.

“I have equipment in my office like a large format printer, a laminator, a cutter, I have box cutters for production for the type of work we do in marketing,” Blevins said. “My seven-year-old will come in and he can sit in a chair and read or look at his iPad, but my four-year-old will not stay entertained reading or looking at an iPad that long. So I’m less comfortable with her coming into my office area. I think it’s fair to say that your kids can’t go to someplace that’s dangerous.”

Her children are no strangers to the main campus nor is the campus a stranger to them.

“They do trips where they come onto campus and they go to the Marble Slab in the student center, they go to the ag pond, they go around campus,” Blevins said. “There’s never any negative feedback when they do those things.”

The policy will be brought before the board of regents on Tuesday, July 23 for a vote.

For the complete policy click HERE.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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