Barnes Bathroom Initiative pushes for free feminine products in bathrooms

Paolo Cesar

Last January, Biomedical Sciences major Yvonne Barnes started a bathroom initiative under the American Chemical Society to provide free emergency toiletries for students in STEM. When talks about sponsorship and expansion under the ACS fell through last Fall semester, Barnes took the program under her own name to make executive decisions and push things forward for better student emergency aid. To that end, she rebuilt the program as the STEM Cares Club under Club Alliance funding.

At the moment, Barnes’s greatest concern for the Initiative is keeping it afloat after her graduation this December.

“I’m trying to make sure that under my club, everyone knows how to properly apply for Club Alliance funding,” Barnes said. “I’m the type of person, especially with the way my family was raised, to teach a man to fish.”

Starting with a similar approach to Ohio State’s bathroom services, such as free pads and other cleaning products with no questions asked, Barnes has expanded the Initiative beyond the Science and Engineering Building to the Brooks College of Health, Biology, Social Sciences, Skinner-Jones Hall of Engineering, and the College of Computing as of next week.

Aside from preparing members of the Initiative for paperwork to carry the program on after her graduation, Barnes is also working to accommodate students in certain buildings with products for their specific needs.

“I wanted to make sure that women in STEM were supported because, usually, if something happens and you’re in the middle of lab, and you don’t have anything, you have to walk all the way to the Bookstore, and that’s at least a 15-minute trek, back and forth, for a whole round trip,” Barnes said. “And by then, you’ve missed, what, 20 minutes of class? Maybe 30 minutes, your instructor has marked you absent or you’ve lost credit.”

Barnes’s ultimate objective for the Initiative and beyond is assisting students in resolving bodily emergencies and cleaning without extraneous effort and possible detriments to their time for college credit. While the program is still working to expand to other parts of the campus, it is doing wonders to give students an extra hand to clean up when curveballs come their way.

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