A resolution to provide free feminine hygiene products in some women’s, men’s and all-gender restrooms around campus is up for vote in Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors.
The resolution began as a project developed by landscape architecture senior Natalie Montoya for the University Union Advisory Board, on which she serves. She then proposed expanding the project across campus and co-authored the resolution for the ASI Board of Directors with business administration senior Hannah Poplack and statistics senior Hayley Ford.
The resolution’s ultimate goal, Montoya said, is to provide students who menstruate with resources to support their success and well-being.
“We believe that by providing these products for free and across campus, we’ll help the people who menstruate to have a better quality of life, more academic success and just honestly [have] access to a basic need that they have,” Montoya said.
The resolution requests that these products be offered for free in some bathrooms for all genders across campus and that they be supplied in reasonable amounts. Montoya and Poplack said the language of the resolution includes male bathrooms because there are students who menstruate who use men’s bathrooms on campus.
Poplack said the resolution aims specifically to serve the population of students who struggle to pay for feminine hygiene products on their own.
“One in five CSU students are actually food insecure. And if you’re a food insecure student, you’re probably not a student who can afford to buy a pack of pads or tampons for $7 at the University Union,” Poplack said.
The project also aims to alleviate the need for students to leave campus in case of an emergency, she said.
“I think that any female constituent or any student that identifies as female that I’ve spoken to has a story … where not having access to these products on this campus has caused them to leave,” she said. “And that was pretty shocking to me.”
While the resolution was proposed to the ASI Board of Directors in April, a movement was originally made to table the vote until March 2018, however, by then all the authors of the resolution will have graduated. That movement would have essentially killed the bill.
After discussion and debate, it was ultimately tabled for a vote on the May 3 Board of Directors meeting. As of May 1, the vote was rescheduled for the May 10 Board of Directors meeting at 5 p.m. in Chumash Auditorium.
The meeting is open to the public. There will be a 15-minute open forum period at 5:15 p.m. directly before the vote where meeting participants can speak.
Montoya said she was disappointed with the proposed movement to vote in March 2018. She said the group of board members who suggested the later vote reasoned the resolution needed more research and specific details about the program, such as where its funding would come from and how it would be implemented.
“All of those things are very important that we need to get student feedback on during a trial period and valid questions, but I don’t think that it’s a reason to shoot down this resolution,” Montoya said.
Montoya said the resolution actually includes broad language rather than specific terms to ensure its success. It gives the university flexibility as to how it can fund and implement the program and within what time period.
The current resolution includes research on the impact of the program on Cal Poly’s facility budget.
“What we’re proposing comes out to just under $15,000, so about $14,000. And that would only add 8.2 percent to the facilit[y] budget,” Poplack said. “It’s a tiny little drop in the bucket.”
Those additional $14,000 would come from the California state budget, which covers facility costs for CSU campuses.
Poplack said that while she would like to see the resolution passed, more time to educate her constituents and fellow board members about the project could be beneficial.
“What I would hope … I would see is a totally different conversation happening in the boardroom,” she said. “It’s not going to take us until March 2018 to understand that potentially half of the people on this campus could potentially benefit from a program like this.”