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SGA upholds initiative for on-campus menstrual product access

SGA upholds initiative for on-campus menstrual product access

SGA upholds initiative for on-campus menstrual product access
October 15
12:00 2021

As some campus members advocate for better menstrual product access, the Student Government Association is rekindling efforts to provide more sanitary pads and tampons on campus.

The 2018 Muhammad Kara and Dominique Thomas administration is credited for starting an initiative to make menstrual products more available by adding dispensers, as well as bins of free supplies, to buildings across campus. Dispensers in the Union and in buildings like Wooten Hall were added that year, offering tampons and pads for $0.25 to anyone who needed them. While the dispensers remained and have been consistently funded every year since, the bins of free supplies were not regularly kept up and eventually disappeared.

Lack of period products is not a burden for just students. Faculty and staff who menstruate and use on-campus restrooms are also affected by a lack of available products.

“Sometimes you’re lucky to even get paper towels,” Honors College principal lecturer Julie Leventhal said. “I’ve just never seen feminine products anywhere.”

SGA’s newest menstrual hygiene initiative is designed to help the “86 [percent] of women over the age of 18” who get their period “unexpectedly in public without the needed supplies,” according to the legislation. The bill was passed at the end of the spring 2021 semester, submitted by 2020-21 Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science Senator Navya Chintaman and 2020-21 College of Business Senator Paola Rojas.

The legislation included plans to continue running the program starting fiscal year 2022, which began in Texas on Sept. 1, 2021. The current SGA administration has committed to upholding this clause. A mix of fundraising events and donations was suggested to ensure the initiative’s continuation for future semesters.

“This year’s breakdown of how much we’re allocating to that initiative is going to be $950,” SGA Vice President David Muñoz-Sarabia said.

The money will go directly to university Facilities, which operates and maintains the menstrual product dispensers. Because there are specific brands that have to be purchased for the dispensers, the department takes care of the maintenance instead of SGA.

While plans for a menstrual product donation drive are still being discussed by SGA members, nothing has been officially announced.

The proposed baskets of free menstrual supplies would be available only in the Union, in no more than 13 women’s and unisex bathrooms, according to the legislation. Muñoz-Sarabia explained that the building and bathroom limit was included because of a potential lack of donated or purchased supplies.

“We’re trying to figure out how this can be a long-term thing that is guaranteed to all students and have [dispensers] in more than just the Union,” Muñoz-Sarabia said.

The university’s food pantry, located in the back of Crumley Hall at the Diamond Eagle Student Resource Center, also offers free menstrual products for students. However, this may be less convenient for a student who starts their period unexpectedly between or during classes.

“I think [menstrual supplies] are just one more thing to provide reassurance to students,” Leventhal said. “It’s a small thing in the large context of a university, but it’s a meaningful thing.”

Muñoz-Sarabia hopes the current initiative and any future bills combating period poverty will show students they should not be afraid to have conversations about what they need from the university.

“I think that the efforts are doing a lot of good,” education graduate student Hannah Ottinger said.

Featured Image: An empty period product receptacle inside Wooten Hall on Oct. 7, 2021. Photo by Elizabeth Bulot

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Alex Reece

Alex Reece

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