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Aunt Flow is Here and Baylor is Ready

     Every vagina-owner has been there. Your period starts while you’re on campus and you don’t have anything with you. Instant panic. Groan of frustration. Your first thought: I’m done with today. I just want to go home. 

     Menstruation should not be a hindrance to education. Several generations of Student Senate women have recognized this problem, and Katie Groves and Maggi McClanahan co-authored the bill that finally passed. Groves is a Senior English Major and currently works as Chief of Staff to the Student Body President. She served as a Student Senator for three years. McClanahan graduated in May and currently works in Washington, D.C. for the U.S. House of Representatives. She was in the Student Senate for two years and served as Academic Affairs Chair as a Senior. 

     The pair’s bill, titled “Aunt Flow @ BU” for the company they worked with passed in Student Senate in April. Though there were understandable setbacks due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the dispensers and products were both at Baylor in December. The pictured dispenser is in one of the SUB first-floor women’s bathroom stalls. These dispensers have both tampons and pads. 

     In emphasizing the importance of this legislation, McClanahan said that, due to the dispensers, “student health and dignity enhances on campus while combating a stigma in desperate need of eradication. I am very proud of Baylor and Baylor Student Senate for implementing our bill on campus.” 

     Groves also emphasized the fact that their bill was written with emergency situations in mind. The Store, located in Sid Rich 047, provides feminine hygiene products for low-income students who may need products on a more regular basis. I cannot express enough how grateful I am for what The Store does for Baylor, and I will include a link to their website at the bottom of this article. Please do not hesitate to visit their location. 

     McClanahan became interested in the topic of menstrual hygiene while a Freshman in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core. Tasked with an assignment to write a paper and speech advocating for a certain group of people, McClanahan chose to write on the topic of period poverty. She said that her research “grew [in me] a strong desire to combat [period poverty] not just in general but in my community at Baylor.”

     Groves is also a champion for the rights of menstruating people and wants to see greater education and action around the issue. Throughout the journey of the bill, Groves said that she was greatly disappointed in the ignorance she saw from some cisgender men in Student Senate. She said that she tries her best to stay educated on matters that affect others so that she can support them. She wants to see the same attempt from cisgender men. Groves wants them to understand that menstrual emergencies can get in the way of class and often result in having to make a decision between hygiene and education (if you’ve ever used folded toilet paper, you know what she means). It is not the fault of these cisgender men that they do not have this barrier, but they do have a duty to educate themselves. “I’m so tired of barriers, [but] this is one step closer to actual equality,” Groves said. 

     Baylor Student Government provided the full funding for the project, but the bill was written with the intent of the university taking over after this round of products run out. Availability of feminine hygiene products is a health issue: one that should have been provided for by the university long ago. These women have changed the lives of so many menstruating individuals on campus. It will soon be the university’s turn to continue Groves and McClanahan’s work. 

     For most of my own life, I assumed that the difficulties surrounding menstruation were a curse I would have to bear uncomplainingly; annoyances that some people just have to deal with. But what I and so many other menstruating individuals have experienced are more than annoyances. Maggi McClanahan and Katie Groves took an important step to ensure that no one has to choose between their education and their own hygiene. They have also shed light on the need for further education around period issues; the need to ensure that stigma and ignorance do not get in the way of equality. If you are a menstruating individual: this is your victory. If you are not: celebrate with us. 

https://www.baylor.edu/ssi/index.php?id=947350

Addison Knight is in her second year at Baylor University. She will be graduating in December of 2021 with a B.A. in English Literature. She is involved in Student Senate, Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, and Her Campus Baylor. Addison loves cats, watching the sunset at the lake, and hippie music. She takes her coffee black if you're feeling generous!
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