Southern Oregon University students have reversed themselves, voting to subsidize on-campus day care after all. Now it's up to university officials to find a way to keep the doors open.
The Schneider Children's Center, a longtime fixture on campus, had been set to close when the spring term ends in June after running at a deficit all year.
A year ago, SOU's student government voted to stop supporting the center directly with student activity fees, opting instead to provide student parents $400 a month for child care. The 28-year-old center increased its rates and opened its enrollment to the general public for the first time in September, hoping to become financially self-sufficient, but it was not enough.
Now the SOU student body has voted 78 percent in favor of resuming the student fee subsidy, but that may not be enough to avoid closing the center in June. SOU officials are talking with Southern Oregon Head Start to find out if a partnership could benefit both organizations, and center staff are exploring grant funding options.
SOU administrators and center staff should stay focused on the primary goal of keeping affordable child care available so student parents can stay in school and complete a degree. If that means cutting back on some center expenses, such as an on-site cook, free meals and nine full-time staffers, so be it.
Keeping child care available is more important than continuing a level of service that can't be sustained over the long term.