In a show of student support -- and a rare move of legislative coordination -- Miami's Residence Hall Association (RHA) and Associated Student Government (ASG) unanimously passed twin feminine hygiene care bills last week.
The legislation calls for the installation of receptacles for used feminine care products in bathroom stalls across campus.
The push behind the bills came from a survey that RHA sent out last semester to students living on campus. Of the 1,087 respondents, more than 80 percent supported placing feminine hygiene receptacles in every dorm bathroom stall.
After looking at the data, RHA President Effie Fraley and other RHA members contacted ASG senators, including first-years Craig Beuerlin and Jasmine Adkins, to write joint legislation addressing the issue.
"I think it's great when ASG and RHA can work together to identify needs for students that live in our residence halls," said Vicka Bell-Robinson, Miami's director of residence life. "And if there's a gap in the way we are providing our services, I think it's great for them to come together and look at look at those problems."
The bills only express support for the installation of receptacles -- neither body has the power to implement such a change without approval from Miami administration. However, Fraley, Beuerlin and Adkins hope to use the success of their legislation to force the university to action.
"RHA is standing up to this and making sure the administration knows that this is something that can't be ignored and it won't be ignored," Fraley said. "RHA believes this legislation will reach all of the administration with good measure."
In the past year, students across the country have become more vocal about universities not just providing better ways to dispose of used tampons and pads, but offering feminine hygiene products for free, according to reporting from USA Today and Newsweek.
Miami University currently doesn't supply its students with those products, but Fraley is looking to change that as well.
"Our next plan is to get [hygiene receptacles] implemented, then from there we want to further Miam's inclusive measures and create a more accessible way to get tampons and feminine hygiene care products that are no cost or at a reduced cost to our residents," Fraley said.
The cost of installing, emptying and maintaining feminine care receptacles in every restroom in campus could be high, however.
"A case of 24 of the Scensible bags cost us $56.00. One box contains 24 individual bags and will typically last two weeks," wrote Stacy Decker, Miami's director of building services, in an email to Bell-Robinson that was provided to The Student by Fraley. Decker also noted that it takes 30 to 45 minutes on average to clean a residence hall restroom.
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The proponents of the bill argue that broad installation of the receptacles could reduce the repair costs that can come from flushing used feminine products down toilets.
But at the end of the day, Fraley believes the potential financial cost to the university shouldn't keep the measure from being put into place.
"Our main concern is not necessarily what the cost to the university will be, but the needs of the students," Fraley said.
Bell-Robinson said the Office of Residence Life couldn't comment on the timeframe or feasibility of the implementation of the programs supported by RHA and ASG. She referred those inquiries to Miami physical facilities and auxiliary services. Those offices were not able respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.
"We are looking to make sure that it can be implemented by the end of this year or the beginning of next year in hopes to align with renovation plans," Fraley said.