The planned closure of the University of Minnesota Child Development Center is simply reckless.
As my spouse and I are recent graduates, the availability of quality child care at the University was a major factor in my family's decision to choose Minnesota over other attractive faculty positions, as well as a factor in retaining us as in the face of competitive offers while our daughter was of daycare age. Indeed, one of our first tasks as new faculty members was to get ourselves on the CDC waiting list. In comparison, at Harvard we were confronted with the prospect of paying just south of $2,000/month to place our daughter in a non-university daycare co-op where we would have had to volunteer an afternoon a week!
At a time when the University is purportedly attempting to diversify its faculty, the decision to close the CDC is especially troubling. Despite advances, women continue to bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities. Faculty women already under pressure to excel on the tenure clock as their biological clocks expire are likely to favor institutions that support women who refuse to pursue an academic career at the expense of foregoing the opportunity to parent.
A rich quality of life, including family life, is one of the few strategic advantages Minnesota can offer over competitive universities on the coasts. To give up that strategic advantage makes no sense at all.
Michelle Mason is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Minnesota.
This letter has been lightly edited for clarity and style.