Senate pads budget for menstrual care initiative

Senate pads budget for menstrual care initiative

Autumn Dixon

The Associated Students of Whittier College (ASWC) Senate unanimously voted in favor of a bill proposing free menstrual care products being placed in female and gender neutral restrooms on campus. Passed on April 30, 2018, the bill stated that starting in the Fall 2018 semester, 3.5 percent of the semesterly ASWC budget would be used to buy bulk menstrual care products and place them in the major restrooms on campus. On Sept. 27, 2018, $3,093 was approved to be spent on the Initiative for Free Menstrual Care Products.

Second-year ASWC Student Body Representative Kole Joachim worked with former ASWC Senator Victoria Gonzalez and former ASWC President Bryceton Scurr, who drafted and proposed this bill to the ASWC Senate. “We were all [a] part of Advocacy Committee, and that’s where we brought up the idea of bringing free menstrual care products to campus,” said Joachim. “We were looking for an initiative to take on as something that would impact the whole campus.” Once the bill was drafted by the Advocacy Committee, it was brought to the ASWC table for reading.

Each bill brought to the table is read through three times. First, to learn about what the bill is proposing. At the next week’s meeting, the Senators propose edits to make the bill better. Lastly, at a third meeting, the Senators vote on whether or not to pass it. “Typically, with bills, you’ll have some type of statement that we call them ‘let it be resolved’, and then you’ll provide evidence [of] why the bill should be passed,” said Joachim. As evidence for why this bill should be passed at the College, the bill explained that many colleges in the local area provide free menstrual care products. “WHEREAS, An Occidental Student gained public fame as he was recognized by many national news corporations such as CNN and Cosmopolitan for providing free tampons to females on campus,” reads the bill. 

The Advocacy Committee proposed to devote 3.5 percent of the Senate’s semesterly budget to the Initiative for Free Menstrual Care Products. “The $3,093 was determined from 3.5 percent of the general fund that senate has,” said Joachim. “The general fund is determined from taking student body fees from the students on campus.” 

While the bill was proposed to start in Fall of 2018, it was a couple weeks into the semester before the budget was approved, which was because the Senate had to wait until enrollment was finalized on campus to get the exact budget. Given that the bill was passed, it will be enforced on campus each year. 

“In order to combat inflation, we didn’t put it as [a dollar amount], we put it as 3.5 percent,” said Joachim. “As our budget raises every year, [the percent] will be equivalent to what [the budget] is, so we were looking at the long run.”

The money was transferred to the College’s Facilities Department, who will be responsible for buying bulk tampons and pads, in addition to distributing and replacing them in the major bathrooms of the College — the Science and Learning Center, the Wardman Library, and the Campus Center restrooms. “Our goal is to have tampons and pads available in all gender neutral and female bathrooms on campus, and eventually we want to extend it to male restrooms as well,” said Joachim. The Dean of Students office has promised an additional $500 a semester to pay for the placement of dispensers for the products. 

The drafting, passing, and implementing of the bill has been a long process. “There’s a lot of little things that go into it that I really didn’t account for,” said Joachim. “Being able to transfer the money and know that it’s going to happen, it’s very rewarding to have that done on campus because it’s something tangible.” All that is left of implementing the Initiative for Free Menstrual Care Products is to purchase and place the products, which Joachim believes will be complete within the next two to three weeks. “I feel like [ASWC] Senate is doing something that the student body can directly see,” said Joachim. “We’re listening to the students and we’re providing for them, and I think that’s just something great because I really think that’s what student government should exist for.”