News, University News

UCS holds ideation session, brainstorms plans for year

UCS President Steele ’18 announces new source of funding for tampon distribution initiative

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 12, 2017

President of the Undergraduate Council of Students Chelse-Amoy Steele ’18 announced changes to the tampon iniative started by her predecessor Viet Nguyen ’17, which the Office of the President will now fund.

The Undergraduate Council of Students held an ideation session in its weekly general body meeting Wednesday night, as the group’s committees begin to create goals and plans for the year. UCS president Chelse-Amoy Steele ’18 also announced several changes to the organization’s tampon initiative.

Since September 2016, UCS members have distributed tampons and pads in non-residential men’s, women’s and gender-neutral restrooms as part of an initiative led by former UCS president Viet Nguyen ’17. For the past year, the plan has been funded by UCS through funds allocated by the Undergraduate Finance Board. The Office of the President is currently funding the initiative, Steele said.

The funding will be provided “on a temporary basis, for this semester only,” wrote Brian Clark, director of news and editorial development, in an email to The Herald, adding that it will specifically come from UFunds, “a centralized source of funding created as a mechanism for supporting student activities with a cohesive approach, rather than individual requests going to a wide range of different offices.”

The initiative will cost approximately a few thousand dollars per semester, Steele told The Herald.

Steele also announced that UCS will source the tampons from a different company called Tampon Tribe, which produces tampons and pads made from organic materials. The group’s tampons are made to “the best natural international certified organic standards” and are produced without plastic, according to the company’s website.

Hygiene products will continue to be distributed by members of UCS, Steele said. She asked for volunteers — both from UCS and the general student body — to distribute tampons and pads two times per week to designated restrooms. Next semester, Steele said, she hopes that distribution will be operated by the facilities department beginning in the spring. UCS will need to collect data on the usage of the distributed tampons so Facilities Management can create its own system of distribution.

“Half of the institutionalization is currently happening,” Steele said, referring to her goal of having the University finance and distribute the tampons.

The group will begin distributing tampons and pads next week, Steele said.

In the ideation session, UCS general body members dispersed into four smaller groups to brainstorm ideas for four of UCS’s committees: campus life, academic affairs, student activities and student wellness. Some, but not all, of the committees have held their first internal meetings in the past week.

“What are all the projects that (committees) are going to be working on for this upcoming year? What is going to be prioritized out of this list? And what is the person going to be working on? That is the goal for the end of this meeting,” said Steele.

After the session, chairs presented the results to the general body.

Camila Pelsinger ’20, the chair of the committee on campus life, announced that Sara Kutcher ’20 will be the group’s Dining Services liaison and will look into creating an app that will incorporate information from Bon Appétit.

“Another of our first big tasks will be creating water stations across campus in residential halls and in gyms that don’t have water stations,” Pelsinger added.

Mar Weiss ’20, chair of the committee of academic affairs, discussed ideas such as “expanding the writing center’s accessibility.”

She also mentioned ideas such as improving the communication of academic departments, as well as developing a research fair so that students can better know what research opportunities exist for them.

Chair of Student Activities William Zhou ’20 mentioned ideas such as a survey for club presidents and a booth at the activities fair about how to start a club.

He also expressed a desire to “clean up club applications to make them shorter” and to make the descriptions of clubs posted on the BearSync portal “more efficient and more comprehensive,” he said.

Chair of Student Wellness Sharon Zeldin ’20 brought up “insurance coaching,” a concept that would have insurance experts sit down with students to explain their insurance coverage. Zeldin also raised the need to increase accessibility to Counseling and Psychological Services and Student and Employee Accessibility Services.

Steele also announced that any members who miss more than three general body meetings without valid excuses will be made to gather an additional 100 signatures in order to rejoin UCS as a general body member.