Student Government senators announced Tuesday they will take action to provide free menstrual products on campus after a Senate committee unanimously voted down a code revision for the initiative over a week ago.
In a letter to the Alligator editor, Senator Branden Pearson (Lakeside, Inspire) and Senator Emily Dunson (District A-02, Impact) said they hope to work toward bringing free menstrual products to campus with funding through Facilities Services and GatorWell.
Pearson and Dunson said that if they are successful in getting funding, menstrual hygiene products would be available in the Reitz Union, Newell Hall and other unspecified campus locations by April 2018.
Pearson said they’re looking to launch the program for just under $5,000, but they’re still determining the source and final costs. After the pilot program, Pearson said the initiative could be available in about 60 gender neutral bathrooms on campus.
“I think whenever you are launching something, it has to go through a pilot phase,” he said. “When you are taking a project and you’re trying to do it across campus, you’re just thinking about doing it.”
SG Budget and Appropriations Committee unanimously voted against a code revision to use students’ activity and service fees to pay for pads and tampons Jan. 15 after 20 minutes of deliberation, according to Alligator archives. The code revision was supported by a petition that had over 4,000 signatures.
Dunson, the Budget and Appropriations Committee chair, said the decision to vote against the code revision had more to do with funding than the validity of the petition. Dunson said the code revision could not be approved while it specified it would be funded by the activity and service fee budget.
Menstrual products serve personal health purposes, which isn’t paid for by the activity and service fee budget, Dunson said.
“The decision of the committee to reject the code revisions is different than denying just student government overall’s support of the initiative,” she said.
She said officials will explore other resources of funding before changing the code.
Pearson, Dunson, Student Body President Smith Meyers, Women’s Student Association President Rebecca Kravitz, and Gators Matter, Period. Coalition Leader Chase Werther will meet with the GatorWell director, Facility Services director and a Reitz Union administrator to discuss the funding of the initiative.
Meyers said SG leaders have met with student members of Gators Matter, Period. for a few weeks to discuss a pilot program for the initiative. The goal is to get free menstrual products in the Infirmary and GatorWell locations. Menstrual products are already offered in the Field and Fork Pantry.
“Our end goal is to get it funded across campus, but in order to do that, there’s a chance we might need to prove it’s a service that will be utilized by students,” Meyers said. “I will do my best to make this happen before I leave my office in April.”
Pearson said he was initially disappointed by the unanimous vote against the code revision last week, but they’re making great strides to accomplish the goal.
“I was disappointed by the decision last week, but I do believe other options do exist,” Pearson said. “I believe it’s important to respect the decision of the committee and work on other avenues in a bipartisan effort to make this launch in a timely manner.”