The Pads and Tampons Initiative is back.
Over the past few weeks, SA has begun to revive last year’s 5K Challenge winner and former SA legislative initiative.
“This has been a priority for us,” SA Vice President Becca Mooney said. “We’re trying pretty much every avenue to figure out the best was to move forward with that idea of making this permanent and making this something that is just a part of the undergraduate resources.”
The initiative received a big boost last Monday when the SA Senate unanimously voted to reallocate funds from the City Cycles program to funding for pads and tampons.
The $4,650 per year budget, however, will likely not be fully available this year, since the contract with the bike-sharing program ends at the end of October.
SA hopes to use the additional funding to sustain the program and make it a permanent fixture so future UR students will have access to pads and tampons.
“We’re not thinking about, necessarily, us, because unfortunately we’ll be gone in 202 days,” Executive Director of Campus Services Craig Campbell said. “We’re thinking about the next four, five years of students who will come and not even remember, won’t be cognizant of a time when we didn’t have tampons and pads in restrooms.”
The initiative’s revival is not without its challenges. According to several SA officials, Facilities has been resistant to distributing SA’s current supply of pads and tampons since they weren’t purchased through Facilities’ supplier.
To get around this, SA has reached out to College Feminists and the UR Student Health Advisory Committee to try and arrange distribution, and they hope to potentially work out a solution with Facilities that involves the distribution of the current supply.
Campbell, Mooney, and SA President Jordan Smith are optimistic that, despite the difficulties, when students return for spring semester in January, the initiative will be being implemented.
“Optimistic is a really good word […] and it’s very much how I feel about this,” Smith said. “There’s been a lot of hard work put into this by a lot of different people both last year and this year. And I think now that we’ve got a good game plan, I feel very optimistic about where this is going and its future and longevity.”
Smith and Mooney noted in an interview that they plan to have the undergraduate student representatives on the University’s Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia advocate for the President’s office establishing permanent funding for the initiative.
Campbell also explained that they were looking into getting sanitary product dispensers for pads and tampons for some bathrooms to prevent issues seen last semester with excessive taking of pads and tampons and baskets going missing.
The dispensers, however, will be free-standing, not fixed to bathroom walls, due to concerns about asbestos.
Mooney explained that SA was committed to seeing the initiative through to the end.
“I think that it maintains its importance as it did when it was voted upon in the 5K Challenge, in the sense that everyone backing the University of Rochester deserves equal access to their education,” Mooney said. “If not having access to pads and tampons and things of the sort are an impediment to that access, then this is of the utmost importance, and will always be of the utmost importance until we derive that permanent solution, which we very well will.”