Columbia College Student Council voted to launch a pilot program to distribute tampons and pads in 17 on-campus bathrooms on Sunday, a project which will be entirely funded and operated by the undergraduate councils.
Following a joint effort by CCSC and Engineering Student Council, Columbia Health began offering free tampons and pads at Medical Services in John Jay Hall in March. This program was quietly discontinued in September, then restarted a week later due to pressure from the two councils.
Although Campus Services will fund the installation of new tampon and pad receptacles in the 17 bathrooms, union contracts prevent Facilities workers from restocking them. This means that council members will have to stock the receptacles themselves, according to CCSC Vice President for Policy Abby Porter, CC '17. Council members will use this opportunity to gather data on how frequently the products are being used. The program will be co-sponsored and co-operated by CCSC, ESC and General Studies Student Council, pending the other councils' approval this week.
The tampons and pads will be installed in ground floor male, female, and gender-neutral bathrooms in Lerner, Hamilton, Carman, McBain, Lewisohn, and Schapiro Halls, the Northwest Corner and Mudd Buildings, Butler Library, and East Campus.
The program will be funded by CCSC, ESC, and GSSC because Health was unable to factor the $1,054 initial cost of tampons into its budget, according to Porter.
But controversy surrounded CCSC's vote on the resolution. In Sunday's general body meeting, some representatives complained that the resolution was quickly pressed to a vote by CCSC's executive board without the council-wide discussion that usually precedes a vote, which is a breach of typical procedure, leading University Senator Josh Schenk, CC '19 to abstain from the vote.
Schenk and Class of 2018 President Ezra Gontownik, CC '18, raised strong objections to the executive board's handling of the discussion. This led the council to a lengthy discussion about Robert's Rules of Order, a universally-recognized set of procedures typically used by CCSC to structure its meetings.
"I'm pretty big on following Robert's Rules, and I don't think they've been followed at all in this discussion," Schenk said. "I don't feel comfortable voting just because several different parts of Robert's Rules just weren't followed, so I don't think there's any reason to be able to vote."
CCSC also voted to not support a permanent food bank proposed by GSSC on Sunday, primarily because GSSC was unable to provide a breakdown of the items their $6,000 minimum funding request would be spent on.
Two weeks prior the food bank's co-chair, Michael Higgins, GS '21, pitched the partnership to CCSC, but council members declined to vote on the proposal at that time, too, because they did not find the breakdown of costs to be specific enough. To address this concern, CCSC appointed Inclusion and Equity Representative Lewit Gemeda, CC '18, to collaborate with Higgins to develop a clearer financial picture.
But such a breakdown could not be developed because the food bank's leadership did not want to make financial decisions until a board of the food bank's sponsors could be created, according to Gemeda.
"Basically, they don't have a detailed point-by-point budget because they don't have the money yet. They're going to establish the board after people have committed amounts of money to get a seat on the board, and then that board that's established controls the budget," Gemeda said.
Food insecurity on campus disproportionately affects GS students, with low enrollment in dining plans and relatively low financial aid, and far more GS students use resources such as the Emergency Meal Fund than CC or SEAS students.