The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government (USG) passed a bill Wednesday night that would begin providing free tampons and pads in female and gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.
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.
The bill mentions that condoms are provided for free on campus, but are not “completely necessary,” like feminine hygiene products are for many students.
“Menstruation is one of those things that’s not optional,” Elechicon said.
The bill designates up to $20,000 to cover the cost of products and dispensers for the spring 2017 semester. Elechicon and Nenadal both said the actual estimate lies closer to $15,000.
Elechicon said yearly costs for continuing the program are expected to be lower, because the dispensers are a fair portion of the budget, but are a one-time cost.
Sen. Benjamin Murray (ACES) asked during debate why USG would be responsible for covering costs for the initiative.
“I do agree that it should be paid for and if no one else is doing it, I wholeheartedly agree with us doing it, but I think a next better step would be getting the same people who provide [condoms] to also provide this, instead of us,” Murray said.
Nenadal said USG representatives working on the initiative spoke to Student Health Services about providing free tampons, but they don’t have the funds to support it. Elechicon said she is personally working to get donated products from feminine hygiene companies like Playtex and Kotex, in order to keep costs lower.
Nenadal said about 20 volunteers would be working to distribute the products to bathrooms once they are available.
Ultimately, Elechicon said the initiative is about serving students on campus who biologically need pads and tampons.
“It just boggles my mind that we’re not catering to almost 50 percent of the student body,” Elechicon said. “It’s about helping students so they can live with dignity and hygiene.”
Schae Beaudoin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.