By Grace Scarberry, The Miami Student
Flower Hall President Joshua Smith is heading the initiative to provide free feminine-products in all bathrooms campus-wide. To further his initiative, he is currently trying to create a Resident Hall Association (RHA) committee and reaching out to other universities who offer free products.
“I would not call myself a feminist, but it just makes sense,” Smith said.
Since many students do not have cars on campus, it would be especially beneficial for them. It can be inconvenient to purchase products at on-campus markets since many of them are far away from most residence halls.
“It would be one less thing a student has to worry about,” Smith said.
During a meeting with his RA, the idea was briefly mentioned to Smith. He passed it on at an RHA meeting and ever since then has been continuing the initiative.
At a meeting with the director of housekeeping, Smith was told to contact campus house facilities about the proposal. He has also contacted other universities who offer free products, including Brown University. He is trying to find out how many of their students have taken advantage of the products.
“The communication is the hardest part,” Smith said. Right now, Smith is waiting to hear back from the sources he contacted. Until then, it’s hard to make further progress.
Smith has also reached out to other residence hall presidents, hoping they will share the idea with their community leadership teams (CLT’s). As of now, he is the only RHA member working to initiate the idea. “Help would be very much appreciated,” he said.
He said that in order to see any progress, people who are willing to get involved need to spread the idea. “If the whole thing gets out there and we get enough students behind it, facilities can only say no for so long,” he said.
Tappan Hall President Bridgette Francis said she heard about the idea at RHA meetings. However, she has not seen Tappan residents or other executive board members trying to initiate it. She said she would work for the initiative herself if other people were more involved.
Steven Sajkich, Tappan Resident Director, said that initiatives from RHA usually aren’t blown off or ignored. Not all proposals are accepted, but with enough student support, acception is more likely.
“One example I have witnessed in the past is having extra bike racks placed near residence halls,” he said.
If enough students initiate a proposal, it is more likely to be heard.
“I feel like I would take advantage of it if they were offered,” first-year Juliana Livieri said. “Tampons are expensive, and it would be nice to save money on something you need.”
Smith said a lot of people don’t understand that feminine products have a luxury tax. “It’s an essential item, so to put a luxury tax on it is asinine,” Smith said.
Livieri said she probably wouldn’t go out of her way to push for free feminine care products, but she still supports the idea.
“If it happens, I definitely think a lot of women would take advantage of it,” she said. “But with me, I know I would also be concerned with what type they are, and if they’re a brand I like.”
Smith plans to have a presentation ready for university officials before spring break. He hopes they will approve of the idea over the summer and implement it for the fall semester.