Students at Waynesburg University may have noticed something new in both the male and female bathrooms in Stover Campus Center on campus recently. Baskets with personal care items have been placed on the counters in the bathrooms for students to use as they are needed.
About a year ago, a mini grant was applied for and received by the University’s faculty and staff. The program, called S.U.C.C.E.S.S., was used to provide the university with the funding to purchase hygiene items to place in the local middle schools.
S.U.C.C.E.S.S. stands for self-guidance, understanding, courage, community, esteem, self-confidence and self-acceptance, and was used to combat bullying against students who may not have access to personal hygiene products. This was done for about a year before the university applied for the grant again and expanded it to include the college students as well.
“We’ve learned that there are a number of people in our campus community that could benefit from the hygiene products,” Pat Bristor, interim dean of students, said. “We recognize that our students are in need as well.”
Along with the funding received, there have been donations of money to use to keep everything in stock. With the money from the funding and the donations, the baskets in the bathroom are no longer the only free items available for students to use. Along with the hygiene products, snack foods are also available in the back hallway of the third floor in Stover. This resource is now being called “the pantry.” This is also where long term items that will not be available in the bathrooms, like toothbrushes and shampoo bottles, can be found and donated.
The baskets in the bathroom showed up in the last week of January to let students know where they can find the other products that are in the third-floor back hallway. Above the baskets there are signs to direct students where to go if more products are needed.
“The response is going very well in the bathroom,” Bristor said. “The plan is to eventually move some baskets into other buildings. We’re going to be looking at doing that by the end of this month.”
The baskets will also soon be found in Miller, Buhl and Stewart. From there, the baskets will continue to expand if the need is there and the students are using them properly.
“I think the key right now is making sure students understand that it’s here and that it’s free and they can definitely come up and get what they need,” Bristor said.
While the products in the baskets and pantry have been purchased with the grant money and donations, monetary gifts aren’t the only thing keeping the products in the bathrooms. Students and faculty are welcomed to donate physical items, such as deodorant, sanitary products, other hygiene products and even snacks to Student Services and the pantry.
“I think that Waynesburg does a wonderful job at helping the community through a variety of programs, but I think it’s equally important that they recognize that sometimes students are struggling to provide for the basic things,” Bristor said.
If this experimental phase goes well, the pantry might expand to include items for students to use during interviews, like dress shirts and items to do laundry.
For now, the baskets and pantry will operate on a system of trust. Take what you need, leave what you can and pay it forward when you are able to.