Senate passes bill to fund free menstrual products in restrooms on campus

Senate passes bill to fund free menstrual products in restrooms on campus

Photo Credits: CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE

Meeting also sees confirmation of new IAC members, discusses upcoming budget hearings

The ASUCD Senate meeting was called to order by Vice President Shreya Deshpande at 6:10 p.m. on Thursday, April 25.

The meeting began with a brief Club Finance Council presentation, which discussed funding for student organizations.

IAC Chair Henry Nibelli then nominated new Internal Affairs Commission (IAC) members. The Senate confirmed Julian Garcia, Hannah Tan, Emily Barneond, Juan Velasco and Jackson Cooney into the IAC. New IAC member Aryushi Chheda was absent.

Senators then had the opportunity to ask the commissioners about their hopes for ASUCD. Commission members spoke about the need for greater campus awareness about the Senate, greater bipartisanship and a more detailed knowledge of the bylaws in order to provide effective policy suggestions for senators.

Senate then considered old legislation. SB #81 was examined, but later withdrawn. SB #82 was not considered because it had not yet reached the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission.

Next, Senate discussed SB #73, a proposal to implement a pilot program for providing tampons and pads in high-traffic university bathrooms.

A survey run by the Period Project on campus indicated that 97% of respondents support having free menstrual supplies in campus bathrooms, and 58% of respondents see menstrual products as being a financial burden. 50% of respondents reported they have missed some work or class at least once as a result of not having access to menstrual products.

“With this bill, we not only aim to curb that kind of inequality — because as we know [with] the quarter system, specifically if you’re a STEM major, you’re not going to make it if you skip class just for something that’s so basic — and on top of that, we aim to be a leader in the UC system by being one of the first campuses to supply these products, not by the administration but by the students,” said Shervin Shahnazi, who worked with Senator Ricky Zapardiel on the bill, to resounding snaps from Senate members.

The only reservations expressed about the bill regarded the financing of the trial period for the program. The Senate also decided that organic, low-waste applicator tampons, as well as pads, will be supplied in high-traffic bathrooms including those in the Memorial Union. The bill was then passed without objections.

During public discussion, ECAC Chair Rina Singh expressed hope that ASUCD will pass a bill regarding sexual assault and harassment.

“I think it’s important for us to be thinking, because harassment has happened, and when that happens, what are the systems in place to address it?” Singh said. “And I think it’s really important to initiate that process. If anybody is interested, I personally want to work with GASC [Gender and Sexuality Commission] and address this.”

Deshpande mentioned budget hearings that will take place this week to address a potential dissolution bill. The bill may include budget cuts for specific units including the Experimental College, due to out-of-date advertising and low membership rates compared to increasing UC Davis student enrollment.

“When it comes to these cuts, you have to ask yourself what you’re prioritizing in terms of what it accomplishes, like what could be considered a luxury relative to other units,” said Senator Alexis Ramirez.  “I think if we make cuts in certain ways, it doesn’t mean we have to make cuts to other units. But units such as Experimental College […] relative to Pantry or other units, are a luxury, in my honest opinion,” Ramirez added.

Deshpande concurred.

Singh noted they felt “conflicted” about some of the proposed budget cuts, especially with respect to the Experimental College.

“I personally think that dissolving these units is not the best way to deal with [this],” Singh said. “We should think about other things, like perhaps reducing [their] budgets or something else […] I think [dissolving them] is a big step and I feel for not only those who work in these units, but the people that they care for.”

Senator Sean Kumar said he had spoken with Police Chief Joe Farrow about the potential cuts to Tipsy Taxi, a ride program for intoxicated students. The police department has expressed interest in funding Tipsy Taxi, Kumar noted.

“A statistic should be considered, which is that on Picnic Day, Tipsy Taxi had 400 rides, which saved 400 lives possibly,” Kumar said.

The Campus Center for the Environment then presented its quarterly report. Other upcoming campus initiatives were also discussed, including sexual assault awareness month and pride month.

Singh also spoke about the student proposal to have Punjabi language classes at UC Davis, but said that those she consulted with were not receptive. She discussed the possibility of a sit-in to raise awareness about the proposal.

Written by: Rebecca Bihn-Wallace — campus@theaggie.org