Menstruation frustration leaves campus

New+menstrual+hygiene+dispenser+located+in+the+women%27s+restroom+in+Lampasas+building.+Photo+credit%3A+Angelina+Cazar
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Menstruation frustration leaves campus

New menstrual hygiene dispenser located in the women's restroom in Lampasas building. Photo credit: Angelina Cazar

New menstrual hygiene dispenser located in the women's restroom in Lampasas building. Photo credit: Angelina Cazar

Angelina Cazar

New menstrual hygiene dispenser located in the women's restroom in Lampasas building. Photo credit: Angelina Cazar

Angelina Cazar

Angelina Cazar

New menstrual hygiene dispenser located in the women's restroom in Lampasas building. Photo credit: Angelina Cazar

Sarah Martinez

The frustration of paying for menstrual products is being alleviated on campus as years of legislation enact free menstrual hygiene for students.

Legislation for the Menstrual Availability Act was first introduced in Student Government April 2018 by former Student Senator Elijah Miller. The act allows students the opportunity to have access to free sanitary pads and tampons on campus. The act was passed during the Clegg administration. However, the pilot program is now being implemented.

“There was a lot of obvious dysfunction going forward with Student Government so (legislation) on menstrual products kind of got lost,” Thompson said.

Former Student Government Vice President Keely Freund asked Thompson for the advancement of the program during his term.

“She asked me if we could work together to get it started so by the time (we were in session), this could be something we’d already made progress on,” Thompson said.

During the summer, Student Government spoke with custodial facilities, since its staff members would be stocking dispensers throughout the school year. Additionally, custodial facilities canvassed buildings part of the pilot program to get approval for application of menstrual products at the beginning of the school year. Student Government sought out funding for two weeks.

According to Thompson, the program will cost $5,200 and is being funded by the Division of Student Affairs. Student Government approached Student Affairs with the issue, where Vice President Joanne Smith was supportive.

Aunt Flow, a company aiming to provide tampons and pads for businesses and schools, will be the menstrual product vendor for the program.

Funding did not allow for the program to be accessible in each building on campus. Places offering tampons and pads include Lampases, Harris and Commons Dining Hall, Supple Science Building, McCoy College of Business and Administration and Jowers Center.

“We would have loved for it to be as many buildings as possible, but with the pilot program, we had to be very exact with selecting buildings because we wanted to make sure it’s stretched across,” Thompson said.

Chief of Staff Aliza Sotelo said implementation of sanitary products was a need on campus, as students can have emergencies which may lead them to be late for class.

“We wanted to make (the products) accessible to students wherever they may be on campus,” Sotelo said. “We tried to make it general instead of one large area.”

For the pilot program to continue funding sustainability, Student Government is exploring options and considering the creation of a fundraising club or organization.

“What’s important is making sure VSPA has enough money to keep the program going,” Thompson said. “Our biggest concern is we don’t want to leave it up to a new Student Government administration to keep the process going. We want it to be an independent group specifically focused on this.”

Student Government obtained the idea of creating a fundraising organization by looking at other universities like Texas A&M at Corpus Christi and The University of Texas.

Kristin Rios, exercise and sports science freshman, said she believes free and easy access to menstrual products will save students time and money. Additionally, Rios thinks the act should be implemented everywhere a restroom is available.

“I think (the program) should be everywhere (on campus) and acted on now,” Rios said. “Women deserve free products on things we can’t control. Humans have to naturally use the bathroom and because of that, toilet paper is easily accessible. Why not menstrual products? It’s not fair.”

In time, Rios hopes free pads and tampons will be readily available in bathrooms everywhere.

“If all genders had the same monthly problem, I really think something would have been done a lot earlier,” Rios said. “Since it’s just women who have to deal with this, we’re treated differently, which shows a lot about our society.”

Menstrual products are now available in Lampases. Products in other locations will be available in the upcoming weeks.

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