Senate discusses Menstrual Product Initiative, appoints new officials

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At its weekly Wednesday meeting, the ASUC Senate discussed the Menstrual Product Initiative as well as two other resolutions and also appointed new officials.

The Menstrual Product Initiative, to institutionalize free menstrual products on campus, was introduced by the offices of senators Rosa Kwak and Alyssa Liu. The project would begin with a pilot program from April 17 to April 28, which would place bins containing menstrual products being in the campus’s Food Pantry, Gender Equity Resource Center and Multicultural Center. According to Kwak, these locations were selected specifically because they serve marginalized and low-income communities.

“Having a program like this … will challenge the stigma around this issue and normalize talking about menstruation,” Kwak said. “We realize that UC Berkeley has influence in making powerful statements and we can set a precedent for other universities.”

Staff from Kwak’s and Liu’s offices would monitor the bins and restock them. Additionally, one of the aims of the pilot program is to generate data by anonymously surveying those who use the products.

If approved, the project would be funded by Kwak’s and Liu’s discretionary funds. The Green Initiative Fund would also contribute towards the project, as only sustainable pads and tampons will be distributed. A bill sponsored by Liu supporting this project will be on the consent calendar for next week’s meeting.

In addition to the Menstrual Product Initiative, two resolutions — one supporting federal student aid and one supporting UC Berkeley’s conversion into a Fair Trade university — were introduced at the meeting. Both resolutions were sponsored by Senator Rigel Robinson.

Robinson said UC Berkeley’s conversion into a Fair Trade university — defined as a campus that ensures fair wages, safe working conditions and environmental sustainability — would be a “formalization of a stance of the ASUC and a part of a broader campaign (it is) working on.”

According to campus junior Margaux Payton, who drafted the resolution, in order for UC Berkeley to be considered a Fair Trade university, it must meet a set of qualifications including but not limited to having two fair trade products at every campus dining outlet and implementing a curriculum in at least one department to educate students about fair trade.

“This resolution ideally will garner strong support from the student body,” Payton said in an email. “Looking ahead, If UC Berkeley does reach the status of being a ‘Fair Trade University,’ we will be a symbol for other large public institutions to follow suit.”

Also at the meeting, Senator Zaynab AbdulQadir announced Revati Kapshikar as the ASUC’s new chief technology officer. Kapshikar is a junior and current projects lead at The Daily Californian, majoring in electrical engineering and computer science and economics. She will be the ASUC’s first female CTO.

The senate also appointed Taylor Harvey to the position of ASUC Student Housing Commission chair. AbdulQadir said during the meeting that interviews for chief accountability officer and chief legal officer will take place next week and the week after next, respectively.

Contact Ananya Sreekanth at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @asreekanth_dc.