Senate ‘pads’ itself on the back

SGA passed a plan to fund free menstrual hygiene products around campus

By Hunter Ellis | Staff Writer

First-years Kathleen O’Connor (left) and Mercy Torres (right) pose with menstrual hygiene products. Following a unanimous decision in the SGA Senate meeting on Monday, Xavier will provide tampons and pads for free.

Xavier University will be providing free menstrual products across campus after Student Government Association (SGA) passed the plan on Monday.

Senator Kate Roach proposed a plan during an SGA meeting that would see Xavier partner with Columbus-based business Aunt Flow to provide tampons and pads for women on campus.

“I was inspired to take on this project by previous work in the Senate and discussions about how this is a much needed change on campus,” Roach said. “We have had lots of discussions about what this project would look like, and I really decided I just wanted this to get done. I was tired of waiting for it to happen, waiting for a free solution.”

SGA has chosen to target just two locations initially for the project: Gallagher Student Center (GSC) and the Health United Building (HUB). The project calls for 10 dispensers to be purchased now, with eight different locations for dispensers on campus.

Dispensers will be located in each of the women’s bathrooms on the four floors in GSC, as well as the all-gender bathroom on the third floor. In addition, there will be dispensers in the women’s locker room in the HUB, as well as in both all-gender bathrooms in the building. The extra two dispensers will serve as spares.

The proposed plan would cost $4,000, and would help pilot the program for three years. After a friendly amendment to the proposal, the money will come half from the Senate’s project budget, and the other half will come from the Executive Board’s funds.

“This plan is in a three-year trial period, funded by SGA,” SGA President Thomas Wehby said. “The goal is to eventually make it so that this project is in the university’s budget, independent of SGA. While right now Gallagher and the HUB are the main focuses, as the program expands, we are hoping to get wider coverage across campus.”

Roach also hopes for an expansion to the program.

“Eventually, I hope every building on this campus — new or old — will have access to free menstrual care products,” Roach said. “I want to see dispensers in the residence halls, in the academic buildings, everywhere on campus.”

A large portion of the budget allotted will go toward establishing a reserve stock of the products. SGA will be initially purchasing 3,000 of both tampons and pads.

“We want to show that there is an investment in this program,” Roach said. “We aren’t just buying 500 of the products and seeing how it goes, we have a reserve stockpile instead.”

The dispensers will be checked and refilled by student workers in GSC and the HUB in order to prevent extra stresses for Xavier maintenance.

Students around campus have voiced both support and excitement for the project.

“I support the initiative. Honestly, feminine care products can get pretty expensive, it depends on your financial situation, especially since we’re college students here,” first-year biomedical sciences major Amelia Mitchell said.

Senior Ihsan Walker agreed with Mitchell, adding that he appreciated the inclusivity of it.

“I think it is very proactive and intuitive of SGA to think about putting these hygiene projects in bathrooms across campus…” Walker said. “I think this initiative is very inclusive.”

This is not the first time that this initiative has been approached in the SGA Senate.

“It’s been an interest of the students for a few years, Leah Busam Klenowski, Senior Director for Student Affairs and Student Involvement, said. “Hence, truly, honestly, I’m really excited for this project to get started, and have it’s starting points here in Gallagher as well as the HUB.”

The idea of providing free menstrual products on campus has come up in SGA during previous years.

In 2017, a motion in the senate under the leadership of former Senator Samuel Buettner failed after sustainability issues caused many senators to vote against the project.

This time, however, the proposal passed unanimously, with 19 votes for and zero votes against.

“This was one of the platforms we ran on, and it was one of the first things we discussed as a priority on campus as executives,” Wehby said. “It was very beautiful to see this movement happen organically in the Senate and with our assistance it could come into reality.”

“This Senate is very critical and they really brainstorm how their projects can be successful,” SGA Vice President Mahnoor Zahra said. “While some other groups may not have thought about certain issues, they have already thought of them. So it is very beneficial to have this group working on these important projects.”

Some students hope that this initiative will lead to other changes around campus.

“I hope this project helps facilitate a conversation about women’s hygiene, since it’s such a taboo thing to talk about right now,” sophomore biology major Devon Baird said.

“Personally, I think if SGA is putting money towards free menstrual care products for women, they should also invest in putting free condoms in the men’s bathrooms,” first-year business undecided major Jacob Tarter said.

After the motion passed on Monday, students can expect the menstrual products to be installed around campus in the coming weeks.