UVic Torch -- Spring 2004
Spring 2004,
Volume 26, Number 1

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Family Studies - Photograph by Diana Nethercott
Happy at home: the arraways—Engineering student Colin, Lori and young Siobhan—are part of the “invisible minority” of students with kids.

IT'S STILL EARLY BUT THE WEDNESDAY MORNING BREAKFAST CLUB AT the UVic Family Centre is already jumping. The radio is on, the coffee’s ready and there’s lots of good food on the counter.

Lori Harraway walks in with her 15-month old daughter Siobhan to join the rest of the gang. Harraway and her husband Colin, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, are recent arrivals at the Lam Family Student Housing Complex where families from 21 countries live in the 180 units. The Breakfast Club—based in one of the family housing complex’s ground floor suites—began late last year and its popularity has grown quickly. It’s a place where kids can make friends and parents can find support to cope with the pressures of school work and child care.

Preparing a bagel for hungry Siobhan, Harraway says living here is way better than off-campus housing. “It’s a big difference. You get to know your neighbours and (Colin) can actually come home between classes instead of spending all that time on busses.” Colin Harraway agrees, adding that the main advantages of living on campus are the “quality of the place, the price and the location—I can come home for lunch without it becoming a three-hour ordeal.” The family has a modern two-bedroom with den for a little more than $700 a month. They endured the waiting listing for family housing—usually between 18 months and two years—before taking up residence last September.

With an Alumni Association grant of $10,000 the Family Centre is building on the success of the Breakfast Club and adding the equivalent of one more full day of staff time per week. That mainly means more flexible opening hours to adapt to hectic schedules. The centre—which also provides a small food bank and clothing exchange—receives additional support from Dairyland and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Above all, the centre is trying to make families feel welcome on campus instead of “an invisible minority group,” says Social Work Prof. Barb Whittington, the centre’s faculty advisor.

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