At times, the Editorial Board finds itself at odds with the University of Connecticut’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG), but not in this case: their passing of a bill one week ago, mandating free pads and tampons in gender-neutral and female bathrooms, was a judicious use of power on the organization’s part.
“(Feminine hygiene) products would be provided in the Student Recreation Facility, Student Union and Homer Babbidge Library. USG chief of staff Erika Elechicon and Sen. Dylan Nenadal (Hilltop Halls) co-authored the bill. Elechicon says tampons and pads are expected to be available to students in early March.” according to a recent Daily Campus article.
The completion of a task by USG meant to benefit the student body is always a welcomed change of pace, and the senators deserve praise for hearing and responding to a nationwide effort – from the city of Columbus, Ohio to the University of Maryland to UCLA – aimed at considering basic student and community needs.
This legislation delivers something female students at any college or university should have had long ago: free access to feminine hygiene products. UConn in particular already offers condoms and safer sex supplies for free in the Student Health Services building, the Health Education building, the Rainbow Center and the Women’s Center, among other areas.
This action is long overdue for women on campus, who previously had no choice but to buy the products USG has just now made available. Attending institutions of higher education already costs an exorbitant amount of money as it is. Why should women have to pay the price for being women? As Elechicon said, “Menstruation is one of those things that’s not optional.”
The approximately $15,000 to $20,000 cost of this provision is but a small fraction of USG’s overall budget. While their plan to find volunteers to periodically supply the products throughout campus may not be easy, it is infeasible that 20 or so helpers would not find this resolution important enough to carry out.
In fact, USG should put its mouth where its money is and assist in this endeavor. Those who supported/authored the bill should be prepared to implement it. Even though USG has done more in the last week than the U.S. government has in the past month, they don’t have the federal government’s enforcement apparatus. The success of this bill may very well rest on the shoulders of those who brought it to life. And how great a photo-op might that be, serving as a contradiction to those naysayers who argue USG is ineffectual and lifeless?
Elechicon put it best: “It just boggles my mind that we’re not catering to almost 50 percent of the student body. It’s about helping students so they can live with dignity and hygiene.”