sg

Amol Jethwani, a 21-year-old UF political science junior, addresses the UF Student Government Senate in the Senate Chambers inside the Reitz Union. He's now running to represent the 21st District, which includes Alachua County. 

Shelbie Eakins / Alligator Staff

More than a dozen students showed up at Tuesday’s senate meeting to speak against Student Government’s initial decision to deny funding for free menstrual products on campus.

But before they had a chance to talk, Senate President Ian Green announced free products would be available in the GatorWell office in the J. Wayne Reitz Union beginning in February. The audience applauded.

Green said he didn't know how much funding was secured for the products because Student Body President Smith Meyers worked out details. Meyers could not be reached for comment. 

At the Budget and Appropriations Committee meeting last week, nine committee members debated funding the Gators Matter, Period. initiative for 20 minutes before voting it down unanimously.

Committee members said funding would only benefit half of the Student Body, while the codes specify that funds assist everyone.

“This is a process, and this first implementation of funding for menstrual products in the Reitz Union is not the end,” said Sen. Emily Dunson, the committee chairwoman.

Rebecca Kravitz, president of Women’s Student Association, denounced Senate for the committee’s decision and said the requested funding, $3,000, would not have cost students more.

“This government funds a myriad of services that do not benefi t close to 50 percent of the population,” she said. “This proposal is about more than just menstrual products — it is about equal opportunity.”

Kravitz also questioned whether SG officials only reached out to her because of public backlash.

Green said students showing up to Senate can make a difference at the university.

“I encourage students to continue to vocalize their opinion and to work with Student Government,” he said.

All but two of the students who spoke were in favor of funding. One student, Kevin Lemos, called the funding anti-American.

“I’d like to condemn these communists who intend to forcefully hike up student prices in order to redistribute student’s capital for the sake of medical expenses,” Lemos said.

Sen. Branden Pearson (Inspire, Lakeside) and Sen. Dunson (Impact, District A) spoke at the end of the meeting about their plan to provide free products in UF buildings by April 2018 with Facilities Services funding, according to Alligator archives.

Along with the GatorWell products, Senators mentioned free products at the Field and Fork Pantry, though some students criticized it as a limited option. At the meeting, the Senate also passed four resolutions.

One bill provided $5,100 to Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative group, to help bring conservative speaker and author Dinesh D’Souza. A second resolution revised Senate rules to ensure meetings are livestreamed.

Before the resolution was passed, Sen. Ben Lima (Inspire, District D) had been livestreaming the meetings from his Facebook page. The final resolutions supported Governor Rick Scott’s proposal to provide tuition for the families of fallen first responders and recognized the importance of Temporary Protected Status, which is being canceled by President Donald Trump.

Contact Romy Ellenbogen at [email protected]gator.org. Follow her on Twitter at @romyellenbogen.

 

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Romy Ellenbogen is a junior journalism major and the Investigations Editor. She religiously checks her email inbox ([email protected]) and makes a great to-do list.