Free pads and tampons will be available in six high traffic restrooms for about one month, according to Aaron Finkel ‘20, chair of Campus Operations Working Group (COW-G) and Massell Quad Senator.
Using a Senate Money Resolution (SMR), COW-G requested $949.39 to pay for six baskets, and about 8,000 pads and tampons. Menstrual products will be placed in men’s and women’s restrooms on the first floor of Mandel, lower Usdan by the Mail Center and Upper Sherman. They will also be available in SSIS.
The SMR passed unanimously in the senate. The products will be purchased in bulk and the exact start date of the month-long trial will depend on when the products arrive in the mail. Members of COW-G hope that they will be able to place the products in restrooms the week after April Break and restock them until finals begin.
“A lot of other universities have done it … I think it’s a good initiative … it fits Brandeis social justice and things that Brandeis really stands for,” said Samantha Barrett ’20, a member of COW-G and the Class of 2020 senator.
The source of the products will be online retailers. A box of 500 Tampax tampons will cost the union $59.05 at Amazon. Sixty-six Stayfree pads will cost $6.88 when purchased through Walmart. This means that an individual tampon costs about $.12 and an individual pad costs about $.10.
At their current decision to provide 8,000 pads/tampons per month, the total cost for the academic year would be around $8,000. This number would increase if more bathrooms were provided with menstrual products.
The month-long test run will gauge student interest in the initiative. Members of COW-G hope to present the results of the test-run to the administration during the Fall 2017 semester. The ultimate goal is to have the administration take over. “It’s a very large cost for Student Union and it would have to be a regular expense that we would have to take on. I think it’s something that the administration should look into funding because they have more money than us,” said Finkel.
Barrett added that the source of the initiative affected the way that the Union has handled it. “Since it wasn’t a Student Union initiative, it was a student-based initiative brought to the Student Union, we can’t necessarily take responsibility for it, as a Student Union initiative,” she said.
Students have approached members of COW-G to help with distribution and restocking. They plan to restock bi-weekly, according to Finkel. Members of the Union, including Finkel and Barett will help with restocking if necessary. “Our goal is to try to get Facilities and Campus Operations to actually do the stocking and replenishment of these menstrual products so that we don’t have to put that burden on the students,” said Finkel.
Barrett expressed concerns that there would not be enough volunteers in the long-run if the Student Union were to permanently undertake the project. “Manpower-wise, to have student volunteers do [restocking], I think there won’t be enough hands,” she said.
Barrett briefly addressed the idea that the products would be stolen or misused. “I think this is important and there needs to be a woman’s perspective on this. I’ve had the questions: well what if people just take them? I know from my own experience, if you take them, you’re gonna use them,” she said.