SGA Personal Hygiene Inititative supplies free menstrual products

Christina Troy, Staff Writer

The Student Government Association (SGA) Personal Hygiene Initiative, which aims to reduce stigma around menstruation by providing students with free menstrual products, began planning and collecting data in Fall 2018. On Feb. 4, 2020, Jose Escobedo, business affairs committee chairman and College of Liberal and Fine Arts senator for SGA, received an email from a representative of Student Health Services ensuring the initiative’s continued funding.

“Even though two dispensers had already been installed and stocked up until that point, I didn’t want to consider the initiative complete until I ensured that the program would be supported even long after I was graduated and gone,” Escobedo said.

Escobedo, working closely throughout the initiative’s lifespan with former presidents of PERIOD at UTSA Karina Chowdhury, Prachi Shah, Bianca Garza and current president Ali Gutierrez, established goals for the Personal Hygiene Initiative that would provide students easy access to menstrual products on UTSA’s campus.

“The Personal Hygiene Initiative was built around 3 guiding principles: providing free products, providing high-quality products and ensuring that the products offered were accessible.”

The idea for the Personal Hygiene Initiative came about a few administrations before Escobedo became a senator and joined the business affairs committee. Though initially uneducated about the impacts of menstruation, Escobedo learned of the barriers many people face when trying to obtain menstrual products.

“I learned more about the issue and heard testimonies from many students who felt that it was unfair society deemed such a natural process a taboo subject to address and that menstrual products were considered ‘luxuries’ and were taxed as such. Their frustrations became mine, and I dedicated myself to the project to ensure that, at least on our campus, this issue was being addressed.”

Currently, there is one dual-chamber hygiene station in the women’s restroom and one in the men’s restroom on the fourth floor of the John Peace Library. Both hygiene stations are stocked with pads, tampons and condoms.

Although the Personal Hygiene Initiative is considered complete, an expansion of the initiative is forthcoming.

“[The Personal Hygiene Initiative] won’t truly have reached its full potential until these dispensers are found campus-wide on the Main and Downtown campuses. The plan is to install and stock two more dispensers by the end of this semester and, when the new fiscal budget is enacted for the Fall of 2020, Student Health Services will work to install and stock more dispensers for the 2020-21 academic year and into the future.”

Escobedo’s hope for the Personal Hygiene Initiative is that its effects, physically and socially, extend past his time at UTSA.

“Years from now, no one may remember the names of those who contributed to this project or be aware of the countless hours that were put in, but if the student body of tomorrow is able to enjoy a campus free of stigma and insecurity, then that is all we could’ve hoped for.”