In late November, the Student Association (SA) announced the creation of two new committees aimed at improving life for students: the Feminine Hygiene Committee and the Mental Health Committee.

The Feminine Hygiene Committee was initiated by Binghamton University Council Representative Harry Bittker, a senior majoring in political science, with the goal of increasing affordability and access to feminine hygiene products for students.

Bittker campaigned on the initiative last year, and the University’s Faculty Senate passed a resolution of support in October.

“The cost of buying tampons and pads every month adds up, especially for college students,” Bittker wrote in an email. “Once you realize how much extra half the student body has to pay because of the bodies they were born with, it becomes an issue of economic equity. And anytime I discuss this initiative with people, it only becomes more and more clear how meaningful it would be for them to see that the University understands and wants to help like that.”

Providing students with affordable menstrual health needs has been increasing in prevalence among public institutions. In October 2017, the SUNY Faculty Senate passed a program to provide free feminine hygiene products in all restrooms at SUNY facilities, modeling it after a New York City initiative that did the same in all public schools, prisons and homeless shelters.

The committee will be led by JoAnn Navarro, the vice president for operations at BU. It will include members from Physical Facilities, Auxiliary Services and the health and wellness department. Bittker will provide a student’s perspective and input to the committee, along with Rachel Anszelowicz, an assistant in the SA’s multicultural affairs office and a junior triple-majoring in philosophy, classical and Near Eastern studies and philosophy, politics and law.

“One thing that was mentioned in the meeting was that students would gain the most from this initiative, and so I think there’s a sense that, whenever costs and logistics allow, this needs to be crafted with students in mind,” Bittker wrote. “So our goal is to help the committee better understand students’ needs, and make sure that we’re getting the best possible outcome for students.”

Andy Jean-Baptiste, the SA’s vice president for multicultural affairs and a senior double-majoring in economics and philosophy, politics and law, proposed the Mental Health Committee, which will be chaired by Anszelowicz.

Anszelowicz said the purpose of the committee will be to assess the mental health resources available on campus, spread awareness of these resources and help end the stigma surrounding mental health illnesses.

“Mental health is a prevalent issue in today’s world and that doesn’t exclude the [BU] campus,” Anszelowicz wrote in an email. “Mental health issues can often be managed well when met with the proper resources but many students on campus feel that those resources are not readily available or could be improved. For that reason we started this committee to aim to shape Binghamton’s mental health resources to be able to best help the students that they aim to help.”

The committee itself will not be an active group that requires funding, but instead an exploratory body that works with other groups and departments on campus to address issues and promote mental health care.

“The committee functions by bringing a number of these groups with vested interests in mental health together, in an effort to pool resources to most efficiently shape mental health resources on campus,” Anszelowicz wrote.