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Students, Faculty Push for Free Feminine Products on Campus

Several students and faculty are expediting the implementation of free feminine hygiene products on campus, with hopes for success in the 2018-19 academic year.

However, these plans are still in the works and are merely projections as to what each group hopes to accomplish.

During SGA’s 2018 summer retreat, Chair of the Housing and Food Service Committee Jennifer Cale pitched the idea to Chair of the Student Resources Committee Amber DiPersia.

“It was brought up last year too, but it’s something I really want UCA to get behind this year,” DiPersia said.

Cale said the idea occurred to her after a high school band competition.

“I was inspired when I was at Missouri State University during a band competition,” Cale said. “We changed uniforms in the HPER Center and their bathrooms had feminine products, mostly pads, placed in a wicker box next to the sink. Seeing a university do that was impressive to me. After arriving at UCA, I decided we should also do this.”

Cale said she wants to start a pilot program to place some pads in bathrooms around campus. She said her focus buildings include the library, Student Center, Student Health Center and possible the Lewis Science Center and Snow Fine Arts.

“Ultimately, I think it’s ridiculous that men can have access to things such as condoms for free, but women have to pay an expensive luxury tax for basic necessities such as pads and tampons,” Cale said. “I hope that by bringing free feminine products to campus, it would raise awareness of the stigma against women’s health.”

This push for free feminine products has also been on the Feminist Union’s radar. Feminist Union President Briana Vongvilay said the topic was brought up during the group’s interest meeting Aug. 30.

“We are planning a hygiene product drive,” Vongvilay said. “We understand that not everyone has access or the funds for these products, and we are striving to help in any way we can.”

Vongvilay said the RSO is wanting to start the product drive in either the fall or spring semester.

“If it were to be during fall semester, more than likely we’d have it in late October to early November, but more than likely we are planning [for]spring semester,” Vongvilay said.

Additionally, Feminist Union faculty advisor and Gender Studies Director Taine Duncan shared The Echo’s opinion on Facebook that UCA should provide free feminine products in dorms.

“I am encouraging [the Feminist Union]to work with the Bear Essentials Pantry. I know that in the past, BEP has gotten donations from [personal care products company]Kimberly-Clark to provide menstrual products. However, I agree with The Echo’s piece that suggests this should be available in all dorms,” Duncan said. “Additionally, I’m encouraging them to work with SGA. SGA Representative Jacob Mitchell reached out to me via Facebook to coordinate efforts.”

If SGA were to provide menstrual products in dorms, Director of Residence and Housing Life Stephanie McBrayer said SGA would have to work with her and her department.

“They would have to respond as to where the funding would be coming from,” McBrayer said. “A few things that come to mind about SGA offering free menstrual products in the residence halls that we would need to work out together are: Where would they be made available? How would products be restocked when used? How would students know where to get them? Et cetera.”

SGA will likely discuss progress toward free feminine products throughout the fall semester once SGA committee meetings have begun. Students and faculty can attend any of SGA’s 5 p.m. Monday senate  meetings or the monthly SGA Town Halls to offer their own voices to the discussion.

Photo by Lauren Swaim

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