Women's Group Stages Hearing On Child Care, Health Services
The Faculty Committee on the Status of Women held its second hearing yesterday, with discussion centering on the need for day care in the University and on criticism of the Health Services.
"Anthropologically, you can't conceive of a community that doesn't care for its own young," Jerome S. Bruner, professor of Psychology and Master of Currier House, said. "The natural units that exist in our own community are where day care should exist-in the Houses, the departments, and the smaller faculties."
Bruner said that Currier House has set up a day care center which has become a center of House discussion: "Child care is political, personal, intense, and therefore good. I want to see it become part of the educational experience here," he said.
Elaine M. Denniston '73, mother of two children, said her younger child goes to a Radcliffe day care play school. "I've been using day care for about ten years, and this is the best setup I have found," she said.
Denniston added that she can visit her son at the center whenever she wants, and take him home half way through the day if she feels he is unhappy. The service costs $30 for a 40-hour week.
She said that this sort of arrangement on a larger scale at Harvard would free women both from problems in finding care for their children and from feelings of guilt over leaving children for a full day.
Banbara B. Jackson, a member of the Graduate Women's Organization, said that those pressuring for day care "are not in any way trying to tell other women how to run their lives."
"A woman who wants to stay at home should stay at home. No pressure should be put on anyone to use day care. But, we [graduate students] are here, and we are not leaving. The fact that some of us have children is not going to keep us from going to graduate school.
"For us the choice isn't day care or no day care; it's good day care or makeshift arrangements," she said.
The discussion and testimony before a largely female audience of about 75 centered around faculty and students, with little mention of University employees. Caroline W. Bynum, assistant professor of History, who was chairing the meeting, said that the committee was set up by Dean Dunlop to consider problems of women in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "We realize, however, that when we are considering day care, it includes employees as well," she said.
The first speaker at the hearing, held in the Faculty Club library, was Dr. Dana L. Farnsworth, director of the University Health Services.
In response to questions, Farnsworth said that the Health Services has its first consulting gynecologist this year, although he mainly consults with other doctors, rather than seeing patients directly.
When a committee member asked him if the Health Services would consider publishing a leaflet describing its doctors' views on such subjects as birth control, Farnsworth said, "You've got better ways of finding out than that-I'd have to tell you about that in a private session."
When pressed, however. he named four doctors who are interested in working on gynecological problems: Dr. Mary C. Eldred, Dr. Curtis Prout, Dr. Sholem Postel, and Dr. Eleanor G. Shore, who was also at the meeting.
Although Farnsworth left immediately after he testified and did not hear complaints about the Health Services from several other people, he said, "Any of you who have complaints, if you will send them to me. I will consider them not as complaints but as reports."
Farnsworth said that the Health Services often refers its patients tooutside doctors when its own doctors are unable to help. In such cases, he said, a student's health insurance covers the cost of the appointment with an outside doctor. Later in his testimony, however, he said that if a woman is referred to an outside gynecologist, she is only covered up to $25.
He said the Health Services' policy on birth control for unmarried women "has been in a state of suspended animation" since a July 8 federal court ruling that the state law against giving such information was unconstitutional. The case is still pending in higher courts.
"Harvard and Radcliffe are not practicing medicine-our physicians are doing it," Farnsworth said. "Contraception is a matter for a doctor and patient."
Alexandra J. Murray, a student at the Medical School, said, "The health needs of women, as they define them, are not being met by the Health Services."
"I am simply urging a reordering of priorities at the Health Services," she said, citing their dermatological and allergy departments as divisions given more attention than gynecology.
Murray said that the psychiatric division includes only two women among 18 psychotherapists.
Another graduate student said that the only way to get maternity coverage from the Health Services is on a dependent's insurance plan-with either the husband or the wife listed as a dependent.
Linda B. Sibley also said that unmarried women are not covered for maternity benefits. "She should not be penalized financially-she is already penalized by society," Sibley said. She added that unmarried women's miscarriages and misallocated pregnancies are covered, "but if she is unlucky enough to have a healthy baby, she will have to pay for it."
Dr. Thomas B. Brazelton, assistant clinical professor of Pediatries, said that Harvard ran a pre-school day care center during the early 1950's. The center, he said, was run by departments interested in child development and financed by research grants. It was discontinued when grants were cut off and Harvard refused to back it, he said.
"I'm not advocating children being tortured or the prospect of research on children being used as a lever to keep people away," he said. "But I feel very strongly that if day care is set up, it should be with some sort of studying involved."
Brazelton said that in the previous center, researchers and future doctors observed children, "because many of them had never seen young children just playing with each other."
He said that he thought the reason why Harvard does not presently have day care "goes back to the old set of tenets of a university being separate from the lives of its students."
The committee's last scheduled hearing will be on women graduate students, next Friday, at 2:30 at the Faculty Club. Those wishing to speak should contact the committee office at 495-4289 by Wednesday.