Three social work students organized a walk-a-thon called “Go with the Flow” on Saturday, Nov. 11, to raise awareness and collect donations to make feminine hygiene products available for free on campus.
Destiny Helpap, James Krampe and Temara Porter-Lupu, all social work seniors, created the walk-a-thon as part of a community advocacy project for their Social Work 403 policy class. Participants in the walk-a-thon were encouraged to bring boxes of feminine hygiene products like pads and tampons or to give money donations.
The event is part of the students’ larger efforts to spread awareness of the lack of free feminine hygiene products on campus. While feminine hygiene product dispensers are currently located in the bathrooms on campus, students must pay for them with quarters. The students hope to build support for a fully sustainable program to make these products free.
“I’ve always had the feeling that feminine hygiene products shouldn’t be taxed to begin with,” Krampe said. “The idea of having something free on campus here would be great. I have sisters, and my girlfriend lives on campus so it’d be nice for her to have a failsafe if she forgot to bring some with her. I really think it should be something that should be available to the female students.”
The students have received over 50 signatures on a petition to provide free feminine hygiene products on campus. They plan to continue asking anyone who is interested to provide a signature or donation if possible.
Helpap also posted a survey on Facebook to gather more statistical support for their proposal. Of 39 respondents, 64 percent never have change with them to purchase feminine products, and a strong majority supported the proposal of providing free feminine hygiene products.
“I’ve been here for four-and-a-half years, and I’ve never had change on me for parking, let alone for a feminine product,” Helpap said. “We’re trying to get the school to understand that this is not a luxury item; it’s something that students need. Oftentimes, students don’t have a lot of money, and they want to be able to go to class. They may end up with some kind of sickness like toxic shock syndrome. It’s just not clean, and there’s a lot of health risks that go with it.”
Helpap, Krampe and Porter-Lupu are hopeful that SVSU will follow the example of other universities in providing a fully sustainable program of free feminine hygiene products.
The students plan to take their petition to Associate Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Sydney Childs, who has shown substantial support for the program, they said.
“We talked to Dr. Childs to see if there was a possibility to do something tuition-wise, but he said that there’s other ways other than raising tuition that the school can cover it,” Krampe said.
In the meantime, the students are encouraging students to voice their opinion on the program.
“I’m not expecting that this is going to happen this semester, (but) possibly something next semester,” Helpap said. “We’re just laying the grassroots for everything right now to try and get all the information.”