FSU Brings Hygiene Products to On-Campus Restrooms

By Vivian El-Salawy on September 7, 2017

An ongoing debate amongst many public universities and workplaces has been whether or not it is worthwhile to provide funding for hygiene products to be installed in public restrooms.

Many women and girls do not have access to feminine hygiene products to use when on their periods, especially if they are below the poverty line. According to the Huffington Post, women spend approximately $1,773.33 on tampons on average, based off of the average cycle length and assuming that you change them as instructed.

Sabrina Bousbar, a third-year student studying International Affairs and Political Science at Florida State University, was inspired to contribute to this cause by none other than Senator Ney.

Currently a Student Government Association Senate pro tempore, Bousbar heard that Senator Ney created a project with the Florida State University Food Pantry to get tampons and pads put in there for those who could not afford them.

According to Student Affairs at Florida State University, the Food Pantry was established in 2009, and since then has provided year-round food assistance to FSU students in need. Members of the FSU Faculty Senate brought nonperishable food items to stock the Dean of Students’ Food Pantry during the Senate’s February meeting in 2016. These food items include various types of pasta, sauces, granola bars, peanut butter, oatmeal, canned soup, and so on.

Image via Spark FSU

After hearing of Senator Ney’s hygiene product installation project, Bousbar contacted him about it and he had included her in on his bill.

“He already completed a majority of his project, however his term was coming to an end in the spring, so I reassured him that I would help to continue this project after the end of his term,” Bousbar said. “I wanted to focus on getting it instilled all over campus because the hygiene products are great for those who cannot afford them, but at the same time, every woman deserves to have access to hygiene products in public restrooms.”

From there, Bousbar organized a group of senators together that were interested in contributing to the project. They aimed to have hygiene products placed into the Union, the Askew Student Life Center (or the SLC), and on-campus libraries Strozier and Dirac.

The project itself took about a semester to complete, with the bill being installed by the last senate meeting of the spring 2017 semester. While it only took a few months to complete the project, Bousbar, amongst others working on the project, did face some challenges along the way.

When you walk across Florida State’s campus, you may notice that the pads and tampons are only placed in the Union and the SLC. The most difficult thing about placing the hygiene products in all of the desired locations was trying to develop a plan in terms of a budget. Many locations request annual funding so that they are assured that the Student Government Association contributes money to said project on a yearly basis.

However, the hardest thing about Senate projects is that these projects can only be planned up to a year at a time since the SGA budget shifts year by year. Therefore, it is difficult for these projects to remain consistent over extended periods of time. The Union and the SLC were willing to get this project going and then hopefully create their own funds to contribute to the continuation of the hygiene product project, staying in touch with senators in the case that they ever do need financial assistance.

The Hygiene Product project costs about $370 per location, providing 1,000 total products per location. For instance, $370 were allocated at the Student Life Center to provide for 500 tampons and 500 pads for the first-floor restrooms and $370 were allocated to the Union to provide for 500 tampons and 500 pads for the first floor restrooms. In other words, the average unit price for the pads and tampons is $0.37 per product. So far, the initial supplies are still lasting and the products have been in place for approximately a semester.

Image via NPR

The second most challenging aspect of the Hygiene Product project was making sure that the project benefited all students and not just certain types of students. Bousbar released a statement regarding SGA’s effort in including all students at Florida State University:

“The Student Government Association consistently works toward making sure that activity & service (or A&S) fees are being distributed to all students. You may notice that the title of the project is ‘Hygiene Products,’ rather than ‘Feminine Hygiene Products’ so that these products can be utilized by all students who desire to use them. We have also placed the hygiene products in All Gender restrooms, as well as women’s restrooms.”

All Gender restrooms are single-stall, locking restrooms located in places such as the second floor of the Union and in the SGA offices. The Student Government Association provides a map with locations of the current All Gender restrooms located on campus here.

Image via Miami Herald

Bousbar commented on what the Hygiene Product project truly meant to her and those with whom she worked with.

“The biggest moment throughout this entire process was knowing that we actually did something. We actually helped our student body.”

“There was a petition going around about instilling feminine hygiene products and it had hundreds of signatures,” she added. “Those people that signed the petition were heard and SGA was able to support them and accomplish this goal for them. It felt good to give back to a community that provides for us.”

“I want to thank Senators Stevie Spear, Kadian Baxter, and Natalia Correa, as well as Legislative Aides David Iniguez, Hunter Dennis, and Anneliese Muller,” Bousbar concluded.

For more information regarding the project or how you can get involved with the Student Government Association, you can visit http://sga.fsu.edu.

Vivian El-Salawy is a senior at Florida State University. She is currently pursuing a degree in Editing, Writing, and Media with minors in Slavic (Russian) Studies and Communications. Alongside writing for FSView & Florida Flambeau, WVFS Tallahassee 89.7 FM, and the Good Life Community magazine, she is a member of the World-Renowned Marching Chiefs and Seminole Sound.

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