SG tackles SB 576, menstrual products

Chase Karacostas

High-traffic bathrooms on campus could soon be stocked with menstrual hygiene products.

The Student Government Assembly introduced Joint Resolution 1, which supports placing products such as pads and tampons in busier bathrooms around campus, Tuesday evening.
Fabiola Barreto, liberal arts representative and co-author of the resolution, said 86 percent of menstruating individuals are often caught without hygiene supplies in public, creating a necessity to make these products widely accessible.

“(JR 1) is a way to show that women are a priority and menstruating people are a priority,” government freshman Barreto said. “We want to make sure that you feel comfortable on campus, (even) if you are in the classroom just doing your thing and all of a sudden you need a tampon.”

The resolution mentions that four other universities including the University of Arizona and Columbia University already have policies in place providing menstrual hygiene supplies for free on their campuses. Barreto said she feels this sets a standard for what the University needs to do to support women who are menstruating.

The Texas Orange Jackets recently held a drive to collect menstrual hygiene products and have a stock of approximately 5,000 tampons that will be distributed to major buildings such as Burdine Hall and the Union.

Barreto said the goal of this resolution is to show that students on campus need and will use these products if they are available, encouraging the University to pay for them.

Liberal arts representative Ellen Teuscher and members of the organization Not On My Campus also introduced Assembly Resolution 9 in opposition to Senate Bill 576. SB 576, which already passed the state Senate, would extend sexual assault reporting requirements to student leaders on campus and make it a criminal offense for University employees to not report sexual assault to the
University’s Title IX office.

Teuscher, government and Plan I honors sophomore, said she and Not On My Campus oppose SB 576 because it robs survivors of the ability to control what happens after they are
sexually assaulted.

“Survivors should have the right to decide whether they want to report or not,” Teuscher said. “Reporting is their best option, but for a lot of people they want to move on and move past it as much as they can, and that is their right.”

SB 576 also puts the entire purpose of Not On My Campus at risk, because it serves as a student resource for survivors, Teuscher said. The bill would deprive the organization of its ability to give survivors options if they are forced to report every incidence of sexual assault they encounter, she said. However, student leaders are only required to report cases that come to their attention while acting in an official capacity.

Tatum Zeeko, president-elect of Not On My Campus, said the bill would discourage survivors from telling close friends about being assaulted for fear that their confidant may be forced to report what happened before they are ready.

“It’s not anyone else’s job to go and tell somebody (what happened),” English sophomore Zeko said. “This is a very private matter. It’s very emotional. It’s not something you want to broadcast. It’s not something you get to jump to immediately. It takes time.”