September 27, 2021
From Fight Back News

PSU organized rally demands access for women's health care products.

PSU organized rally demands access for women’s health care products.
(Fight Back! News/staff)

Arlington, TX – On September 22, Progressive Student Union (PSU) rallied with at least 40 students over the University of Texas Arlington (UTA) administration’s failures in following through on Resolution 18-04, which was a student resolution involving greater access to women’s healthcare products on campus. This resolution was officially passed by student government in spring 2019, and little progress has been made in regard to dispensaries being put in women’s bathrooms or having affordable products being sold in campus stores.

Several speakers from PSU gave their thoughts concerning this failed promise. Basil Hammack gave the first speech, “It is wholly disrespectful that UTA would fail in providing for students on campus in the most basic way possible. By failing to provide healthcare products that they promised, they showed us where exactly their priorities are.”

Katy Afains and Ren Utter both sounded off that UTA has an enormous population of people who menstruate, at least 61.9% based on 2019 enrollment, and that ‘period poverty’ is a serious issue that affects students who menstruate on campus. Period poverty refers to such things as spending money on hygienic products, access to menstrual hygiene education, hygienic facilities, and even access to these facilities.

Both Katy and Ren echoed the points that UTA, as an institution of learning, needs to follow through on the promise made in spring 2019 by following through on 18-04. Especially when said products being sold on campus right now are lesser-quality pads at exuberant prices. Francisco Santillan, a member from the Texas State Employees Union, gave solidarity to the students rallying on campus and echoed that this would also help faculty and staff. “Even though I’m not a student or someone who menstruates, I can clearly see the benefit that this can offer the campus and am severely disappointed that UTA has fallen short of their promise for the past three years.”

Destiny Simmons stated, “As a woman, having a period is something that I can’t control. I feel that because I can’t control a natural body process, I think I shouldn’t have to pay or be without pads or tampons. All women, including non-binary people, shouldn’t have to go through the panic of finding something to use to absorb the blood. I know many people who had to rely on using rolled up toilet paper as a substitute for a pad or tampon. This is insane! UTA can afford so many other buildings but can’t even put basic women hygiene products in bathrooms across campus. How can we call ourselves a ‘community that cares’ if we can’t even take care of our women on campus?”

After this speech, 40 people marched around campus chanting “UTA – do your job!” and “This is what community looks like!” They then delivered the petition that had been started a week and a half ago and had managed to gather 536 signatures calling for UTA to follow through on its promise regarding the accessibility and affordability of healthcare products on campus and expand upon that promise by beginning to provide those same products for trans and nonbinary students as well.

Mark Napieralski, a chief organizer in PSU, reiterated to students at the end of the march that this is only the beginning in making UTA accountable to its promises to students, be they over Black lives, undocumented rights, or access to women’s healthcare products on campus.