Student Council, Inter-Sorority Council bring free menstrual hygiene products to library bathrooms

The supplies will be available in Clemons, Alderman and Brown Libraries from Oct. 22 until Nov. 4 while supplies last


 A container with feminine hygiene products in a restroom in Newcomb Hall from Student Council's first trial run earlier this year.  

Darya Tahan | Cavalier Daily

Student Council has launched its latest initiative in collaboration with the Inter-Sorority Council to provide free menstrual products to students in bathrooms at libraries on Grounds. 

The supplies will be available on the second and fourth floor bathrooms of Clemons, the fourth floor of Alderman and the main floor of Brown Library at Clark Hall. The project will run from Oct. 22 until Nov. 4, or while supplies last. 

This initiative is part of Student Council’s ongoing efforts to increase access to free menstrual hygiene products around Grounds. This past March, Student Council and the ISC collaborated to place around 1,100 tampons and pads in several bathrooms in Newcomb. In September, Student Council partnered with Madison House to place 884 tampons and pads in the first floor bathrooms of Madison House, providing off-Grounds access to free feminine hygiene. 

Zoe Denenberg, a fourth-year College student and the ISC president, said in an email that for this project, both the ISC and Student Council contributed funds to purchase the products. According to Denenberg, last semester the ISC and Student Council together contributed $400 worth of products. For this project, the ISC contributed $1,000 of funding, allowing the initiative to supply significantly more tampons and pads. 

Student Council allocated $900 for purchasing menstrual hygiene supplies to place in library bathrooms in its annual budget, which was passed at last week’s general body meeting. Student Council also allocated $600 for another trial to place products in Newcomb Hall sometime in late November.

Denenberg added that the ultimate goal of the seed projects has been to get the University’s help in funding permanent access to free feminine hygiene products in restrooms around Grounds. 

“As student groups, we do not have the resources to make these seed projects permanent initiatives – that’s where the University comes in,” Denenberg said. “The seed projects run by Student Council and the Inter-Sorority Council are temporary measures meant to collect data to demonstrate need and hopefully incite permanent action from the University.”

Katie Kirk, a second-year College student and the chair of Student Council’s Safety and Wellness Committee, said Student Council is communicating with the University’s Facilities Management department to incorporate funding for a more sustainable version of these seed projects into the University’s 2019-20 annual budget. 

“We are currently working with facilities management to work the cost that it would entail next year into their unit department budget,” Kirk said. 

In an interview, Cheryl Gomez, the director of the Energy and Utilities Department, confirmed that Facilities Management is working with Student Council to identify a longer-term plan going forward. 

“What we’re doing is identifying the number of restrooms, getting a sense of what this might cost, both in terms of startup and ongoing keeping them supplied, furnished and cleaned, and that’s kind of where we are right now,” Gomez said. 

Gomez said Facilities Management would ultimately be in charge of executing this initiative for the University, but added that funding for it would have to come from outside of Facilities Management. 

A previous version of this article described ISC President Zoe Denenberg as a third-year College student. Denenberg is a fourth-year College student.

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