Pregnant and Parenting Student Guidelines
I. Commitment to Diversity and Non-Discrimination
The Medical University of South Carolina (the “University” or “MUSC”) is committed to diversity and nondiscrimination and supports equal access to educational programs and activities for all students and applicants. This commitment is in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The Guidelines for Pregnant and Parenting Students and Applicants (the “Guidelines”) are intended to ensure the protection and equal treatment of students and applicants regardless of sex or gender when they are pregnant, have a pregnancy-related medical condition, or are parenting a child.
These Guidelines apply to and protect all students enrolled at the University and to applicants for admission to an educational program at MUSC. These Guidelines apply to all aspects of the University’s programs, including, but not limited to, admissions, educational programs and activities, and extracurricular activities. These Guidelines also apply to the conduct of all employees.
- Applicant: an individual who has submitted an application to be admitted to a full-time or part-time course for academic credit at the University.
- Child: a student’s biological, adopted, or foster child; legal ward; or relative for whom the student has parenting responsibilities.
- Fundamental alteration: a change that is so significant that it alters the essential nature of the course or program.
- Parenting: fulfilling the role of parent for a biological, adopted, or foster child; a legal ward; or a relative for whom the student has primary caretaking responsibilities.
- Pregnancy and/or related medical conditions: pregnancy, birth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, pregnancy or infant loss, breastfeeding and expelling breastmilk, conditions arising in connection with any of these conditions, and recovery from any of these conditions.
- Student: degree-seeking individual registered for MUSC courses; includes MUSC degree-seeking individual on an approved Leave of Absence.
- Undue Burden: Imposition of more than a de minimis cost on the University’s operations, which may include those requests that are costly, compromise safety, efficiency, infringe on the rights of others, or require others to do more than their fair share of the potentially hazardous or burdensome work.
IV. Prohibited Conduct
Discrimination is any unlawful distinction, preference, or detriment to a student or applicant that is based on pregnancy or a related medical condition and that is sufficiently serious to unreasonably interfere with or limit an individual’s ability to participate in, access, or benefit from the University’s educational programs, services, or activities (e.g., admission, academic standing, grades, assignments, financial assistance). Discrimination also includes any unlawful distinction, preference, or detriment to a parenting student or applicant.
B. Participation in Classes and Programs
- Students may not be prohibited from participating in classes or instructional programs on the basis of pregnancy, a related medical condition, or parental status.
- Students may not be required to submit a note from a medical professional related to pregnancy or a related medical condition in order to participate in classes or instructional programs unless such a note is required for participation in such activities from all students who have a physical or emotional condition requiring treatment by a medical professional.
- Students may not be required to participate in a separate educational program or activity or to limit or end their academic studies at the University on the basis of pregnancy, a related medical condition, or parental status.
C. Extracurricular Activities
Students may not be prohibited from participating in MUSC’s extracurricular activities (including, but not limited to, school clubs, honor societies, and student leadership opportunities) on the basis of pregnancy, a related medical condition, or parental status.
Harassment is a type of discrimination that occurs when unwanted verbal, physical, electronic, or other conduct, that is based on an individual’s pregnancy or related medical condition or based on an individual’s parental status, interferes with the individual’s educational environment or ability to participate in an MUSC program or activity.
- Examples of harassment may include, but are not limited to, sexual jokes, comments, or name-calling related to pregnancy/related medical conditions or parental status; comments about an individual’s intellectual or physical ability to complete coursework or commitment to their education or future profession due to pregnancy/related medical conditions or parental status; withholding or threatening to withhold research funding or scholarships due to pregnancy/related medical conditions or parental status; calling a pregnant individual sexually-charged names; spreading rumors about a pregnant individual’s sexual activity; and any other unwelcome behavior based on a student’s pregnancy/related medical conditions or parental status that would be sufficiently serious to interfere with the student’s ability to fully participate in MUSC’s educational programs or activities.
Retaliation means any adverse action taken against a person participating in a protected activity because of their participation in that protected activity. Protected activity includes (i) participating in the reporting, investigation, or resolution of an alleged violation of a University policy; (ii) requesting a reasonable accommodation related to pregnancy or a related medical condition; or (3) exercising the right to a reasonable accommodation. Examples of retaliatory behavior include intimidation, threats, coercion, or other adverse employment or educational actions.
Complicity is any act that knowingly aids, facilitates, promotes, or encourages the commission of prohibited conduct by another person.
Students must be afforded reasonable academic accommodations due to pregnancy or related medical conditions, to the extent that such accommodations would not result in a fundamental alteration of the academic program or impose an undue burden on the University. Students affected by pregnancy or a related medical condition must be offered benefits and services equivalent to those provided to other students with a temporary medical condition.
A. Reasonable Accommodations
- Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Extending deadlines and/or allowing the Student to make up tests or assignments
- Granting incomplete grades for courses to be completed at a later date
- Providing an opportunity to make up any work missed due to pregnancy or related medical conditions, including participation and attendance credits, if the grading system is based in part on class participation or attendance.
- Modifications of the physical environment, such as accessible seating or provision of temporary elevator access
- Mobility support
- Allowance of more frequent and longer bathroom and water breaks
- Providing remote learning opportunities
- Excusing medically-necessary leaves of absence, and reinstating the student to the same status they held when the leave began
- Granting reasonable time and private space to pump breastmilk
- Providing larger uniforms for on-campus jobs
- Allowing course drops, medical underloads, medical leaves of absence, or medical withdrawals
- Granting requests from pregnant or nursing students to protect the health and/or safety of the student or infant (e.g., allowing the student to maintain a safe distance from hazardous substances).
Inclusion of an accommodation in this list does not mean it would be a reasonable accommodation under all situations. Nothing in these Guidelines requires modification of the essential elements of any University program.
Faculty are also encouraged to allow students to take short-term absences for responsibilities pertaining to parenting, including caring for their child during the child’s injury or illness, attending medical, mental health, or dental appointments for their child, and meeting with their child’s teacher or school administrator.
B. Requesting Accommodations
Students and applicants seeking accommodations for pregnancy and related medical conditions must meet with the Director of University Accessibility to discuss their accommodation request and submit a Request for Accommodations form.
Students and applicants must request accommodations in a timely manner to allow the Director of University Accessibility to review documentation, determine eligibility, and implement accommodations. All accommodations are determined as part of an interactive and collaborative process. The Director of University Accessibility will collaborate and consult with faculty and other academic administrators to determine reasonable and appropriate accommodations for the requesting student or applicant.
Being absent from class or excused from other educational responsibilities does not relieve students of their responsibility to keep up with any information shared or expectations set during the missed class(es). A student whose absence has been approved is still responsible for working with individual course faculty to make up any missed coursework. A student whose absence has been approved by the Director of University Accessibility should not be penalized for the absence. Requests for absences from an internship or externship, field placement, or other practical learning experience outside the classroom will be assessed on an individual case-by-case basis in consultation with the program’s supervisor.
D. Fundamental Alteration to a Class or Program
The University may decline to provide accommodations that create a fundamental alteration of the course or academic program. To determine whether a specific accommodation fundamentally alters the nature of a course or program, the Director of University Accessibility will consult with faculty or other academic administrators to carefully evaluate the requested accommodation.
E. Lactation Rooms
In support of breastfeeding students and employees, MUSC provides private, non-bathroom spaces for expressing breast milk. Some rooms are outfitted with a hospital-grade, multi-user Medela Symphony breast pump. Please visit our online database to see a list of lactation room locations across MUSC’s campus. For more information regarding lactation room accommodations, please refer to the Medical University Hospital Authority’s (MUHA) Lactation Support Policy.
VI. Filing Complaints
Individuals can report violations of these Guidelines to MUSC in the following ways:
All members of the University community may also contact the Office for Civil Rights (a division of the United States Department of Education) to learn more about their rights pursuant to Title IX or to file a complaint if they believe the University is violating Federal law. (OCR@ed.gov; 800-421-3481).