Sister LouAnn Randall, a healthcare service missionary from Idaho who has been a nurse for 42 years, said it’s been difficult for new mothers because nobody has been allowed to have their families visit the new babies due to closed borders or travel regulations. “Nobody’s had help,” she explained.
Sister Randall said she visits expecting mothers on campus, checks on them if they are sick, tells them about free prenatal classes and informs them about Title IX’s relevance to pregnancy.
She said being able to “help and answer questions” the student mothers have is the most fulfilling part of her role at BYU–Hawaii. She tells pregnant students about Title IX, which is “mandated by the federal government,” because it protects pregnancy and parenting.
“If [pregnant students] are missing classes in early pregnancy due to nausea or vomiting … and have a doctor's excuse, then by law, the teachers have to give them accommodations, such as extensions of their assignments,” Sister Randall explained.
Title IX protection
Lj Sikahema, recently hired Title IX deputy coordinator, clarified the purpose of Title IX. “Title IX has not had a very positive image in the minds of students,” he said.
“We're not out to try to punish anybody. We're not trying to get anybody in trouble. We're here to protect you and your rights. We're here to help you get your education done.”
He explained Title IX is a law in the United States that forbids any sort of sex discrimination in the educational environment. “[It] includes things like sexual harassment, sexual violence, domestic violence and, relevant to this piece, pregnancy,” he said. “Students cannot be barred from participating in educational programs because they are pregnant or parenting.”
For example, he said they can make adjustments, such as giving students a different desk in the classroom if the pregnant student's tummy is growing, or make arrangements for the student to take "frequent toilet breaks.”
A big percentage of BYUH students are not citizens of the U.S., and Sikahema clarified they are still protected by Title IX.
“Pregnancy is just one sliver of Title IX. … Often, we like to think women are the only recipients of sex discrimination. … I do have cases where men also are the victims of sex discrimination. Title IX covers [both] men and women.”
Sister Randall said she helps pregnant international students become aware of the federal law by “giving them pamphlets and the contact information” so when they become ill or have issues “they know where to go.”
Sikahema said he is the contact person to reach out to if students have concerns. “I'm pretty passionate about making sure everybody is safe, has equal access and don’t have to deal with any discrimination.” He also suggested students talk to their professors or the health center.
Students can visit Sikahema directly at his office at Lorenzo Snow Administration Building (LSB) 207 or email him at Leland.Sikahema@byuh.edu.
Kits for new babies
Ann Alisa, from Laie, took over the baby kit project when Kathy Ballenger Davis, a senior missionary who previously headed the project, had to leave the island because of the pandemic.
The boxes were previously being given out to community members, but the decline in missionaries combined with fewer donations meant they had to reconsider focusing their diminished resources where they could do the most good. Alisa said they decided to focus solely on donating to the married students in the Temple View Apartments at BYUH.
“Everybody needs [the boxes], but especially the students who come from other countries who really don't have anything yet. Some have nothing, and this is the first thing they have. … It's a nice thing to start with,” she explained.
She said the boxes contain “one homemade quilt for tummy time,” one bib, three onesies, two burp cloths, three washcloths, two receiving blankets, one toy, a comb, one swaddler blanket, a towel, baby lotion, baby wash, diaper ointment, wipes, disposable diapers and a picture of Christ. She said they give the boxes to Randall, who then brings them to the expecting mothers she visits at TVA.
She said the program receives donations, such as cash, homemade quilts and goods from missionaries and community members directly or through the program’s Amazon or Target baby registry.
During Alisa's involvement with the project, she said the program has provided over 240 boxes to mostly BYUH students. She said she hopes the program will grow in involvement and donations so it may expands its service to the students and community.
If you want to send donations, please contact Ann Alisa through her email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mothers rooms on campus
Isabel Hirst, a sophomore studying elementary education from Utah, works at the Aloha Center’s (ACR) information desk. She said there are three mother’s rooms located on campus in the ACR, Stake Center (STC) and at the Heber J. Grant building (HGB).
She said to ask for assistance from the information desk for access to the mother’s room in the ACR. “We have the key with us, and we'll walk back with you to unlock the door. We'll let you in and make sure it locks behind you so no one can walk in on you.”
Sister Randall said the mother’s room in the ACR is located near the inside entrance of Seasider’s. There is a hallway with different kinds of chairs, and when one passes the chairs, the sign that marks where the room is becomes visible.
The other room is located on the second floor of the HGB building, she said. “There's a secretary and then bishops offices, and it's down that hallway.”
There’s no time limit on how long students can use the room, said Hirst, and she added fathers can also use the room. “The room is mostly for breastfeeding, and also if you want more privacy to change diapers.”
Inside the room, she said there is a rocking chair, a table for changing diapers and a trash can.
Prenatal classes & home visits
Sister Randall said she and Hannah E. Biesinger, senior manager at Housing & Residential Life, teach a free six-week in-person prenatal class for husbands and wives. The class is located at the Living & Learning Resource Center (LLRC) by the housing office.
Besides visiting expecting mothers at home during their pregnancy, Sister Randall said she also visits them after they give birth to help with baby care, such as breastfeeding and bathing. “I'm a certified lactation consultant, so I can go in and help with breastfeeding.”
She emphasized the importance of the help BYUH is providing for pregnant students. “Everything the school can do to support women who are starting their families is imperative. It's hard to do [it] without the support of the school and the support of those [different] programs.”