By Matti Pennington | Reporter
After Student Government’s hygiene product bill was passed in April, feminine hygiene dispensers have now been installed in the Bill Daniel Student Center with plans to get more installed across campus.
Class of 2020 alumna Maggi McClanahan and Springfield, Mo., senior Katie Groves were the brains behind getting feminine products available to the Baylor community for free.
“This is an issue no guy ever has to deal with, so this means a lot to me because this is one step closer to equality,” Groves said.
During her time at Baylor, McClanahan researched period poverty in her Baylor Interdisciplinary Core (BIC) classes and knew she wanted to help the female population at Baylor.
“This has been a passion of mine since freshman year,” McClanahan said. “I knew I wanted to help out women even if it was on a small scale at Baylor.”
With graduation on the horizon, McClanahan knew her time left on campus was limited, so she would need the help from an underclassman who could put in the time and effort needed to get this bill passed.
“I hit up Katie, my confidante, my senate ride or die, my senate daughter, and asked her if she would be interested in working on this with me,” McClanahan said.
McClanahan and Groves started their research in June 2019 by looking into which companies worked with universities as startups to begin Baylor’s program.
“Essentially we were put in the middle of a rock and a hard place,” Groves said. “Baylor was coming to us saying they won’t fund this full-time unless you can prove that it is needed, so they wanted us to do a test run. While on the other hand, Student Government said we won’t fund a test run unless Baylor will pick it up after and fund it full time, so this was our biggest frustration while trying to get the bill passed.”
McClanahan and Groves started working with Aunt Flow to figure out how many dispensers would be needed based on Baylor’s population. Aunt Flow works with schools and businesses in providing menstrual products for their employees, students and guests.
“We found out that Baylor’s student population is 59.09% female, so essentially 60% female,” Groves said. “These numbers alone show that this is a need on campus. Based off of our student population size, Aunt Flow gave us a rough estimate of how many products were typically used at other schools and how many we would need.”
Based on those numbers, they took their results to the finance committee and it ended up failing. Then, McClanahan and Groves started to alter the bill, so that they could please the finance committee and get it passed.
“The dispenser we wrote the bill for has a 10-second delay mechanism, so that people wouldn’t be taking a handful of them and leaving which was a concern they had,” Groves said.
Last spring when COVID-19 hit, they went back to the finance committee to re-pitch the bill. Groves said she was nervous that people would not see this as necessary anymore because students would not be on campus as much.
“Knowing that we did not have a lot of events to fund at this point putting up these dispensers was the best use of the money,” Groves said. “They ended up passing it.”
In April, the final agreement was 12 dispensers spread out across campus and 9,000 products. They had hoped to get them up on campus in August, but with the pandemic still in full force the delivery was delayed and they did not get them delivered until November.
“I felt really relieved when the bill was passed,” McClanahan said. “A lot of people before us had wanted this and had fought for this and with Katie’s and I efforts combined with all of the efforts before us we finally did it.”
Right now, the dispensers are available in the women’s restrooms throughout the SUB and they are working on getting more up across campus.
“I know the feeling of being without when I need a tampon,” Groves said. “No one should have to be so dignified that they have to use toilet paper instead, go without or skip class and go home. Even if this just helps one girl, we made a change.”