Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

During its Nov. 16 meeting, the Student Assembly voted to overturn its initial recommendation to reduce the funding of the Gender Justice Advocacy Coalition, which funds the organization's Free Menstrual Products initiative.

November 19, 2023

Free Menstrual Products Will Continue to be Fully Funded by Student Assembly

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The Gender Justice Advocacy Coalition — a campus organization that aims to create inclusive spaces and initiatives for gender-marginalized students — secured their proposed funding as the Student Assembly Appropriations Committee decided to overturn their initial recommendation to decrease the organization’s byline funding by 10 cents per student. The funding announcement occurred during the S.A. meeting on Thursday, Nov. 16.

The initial setback occurred during the S.A.’s Nov. 9 meeting, in which the Appropriations Committee recommended a decrease in GJAC’s byline funding allocation, which GJAC claimed would affect their campaign that provides free menstrual products in restrooms across campus. 

“[GJAC is] completely byline funded from the Student Activity Fee,” said Loren Weiner ’24, GJAC’s president.

The Appropriations Committee justified the proposed reduction by citing concerns about the lack of quantitative data regarding the usage of free menstrual products and financial discrepancies in the numbers provided by GJAC and initially voted to allocate $3.35 per student per year to GJAC, less than the requested $3.45 per student per year — which is the amount GJAC currently receives. This slight difference amounted to an overall $1,534.50 decrease in GJAC’s budget, prompting an appeal from the organization.

Every two years, the S.A. allocates funding from the Student Activity Fee, which all students are required to pay each year. The GJAC is one organization that receives funds from the Activity Fee, which it distributes to organizations and projects that support its mission.

S.A. Vice President of Finance Rocco DeLorenzo ’24, who signed the report justifying the initial funding decrease, provided a detailed description of GJAC’s financial discrepancies during the Nov. 16 meeting. 

DeLorenzo stated he conducted a review that found inconsistencies in GJAC’s financial records, stating in a Nov. 13 email to The Sun that he had found numerous issues with GJAC’s financial reports, including accounting irregularities stemming from the co-mingling of different sources of funding.

“Due to some accidental double-counting of expenses on their end, they had originally projected a smaller rollover than what the organization currently possesses,” DeLorenzo said in the email. “Many of these accounting discrepancies stem from the co-mingling of GJAC-funded expenses from the general account ledger, GJAC allocation to themselves on the CampusGroups platform and GJAC allocations to the Gender Equity Center on the CampusGroups platform.’

Weiner said the GJAC allocations to the Gender Equity Resource Center that DeLorenzo referred to in his comment was a portion of GJAC’s budget that it gives to GenEq for GenEq’s own use — as GJAC is a supplementary funding board — and the “GJAC allocations to themselves” were reimbursement requests through CampusGroups.

DeLorenzo also found a lack of clarity surrounding the timing of when GJAC’s Free Menstrual Products initiative was last refunded, saying GJAC’s financial documents differed over whether or not a charge for a bulk order of product — the most recent of which cost over $59,000 — was incurred in full during the 2022-23 academic year or if half of it was incurred during the 2023-24 school year.

“The timing of this charge — whether all in the 2022-23 academic year or spread out to [the 2023-24 academic year — is a toss-up at this point, and since I have not been able to get a clear timing of when it took place from GJAC, it supports the claim that GJAC should have better oversight over this essential program they provide,” DeLorenzo wrote in the email.

Weiner disagreed, stating the $59,000 figure was an amalgamation of two years’ charges that should not have been added together, and that at no point did GJAC purchase products for two academic years.

“The $59,000 included a charge for a year that it shouldn’t have,” Weiner said. “There was $27,000 spent in the 2021-22 academic year, and in the 2022-23 academic year, there was a little over $30,000 — those add up to $59,000. And then the $27,000 for the 2023-24 academic year — if you add that on [to the charge from 2022-23] — also adds up to $59,000. So there was just a lot of confusion around these numbers and what year they’re associated with.”

DeLorenzo finally found confusion over the state of GJAC’s current finances, particularly with regard to discrepancies over the same charges in different documents.

“I spent numerous hours trying to reassemble the correct — actual — financial information about the organization, but when each report came in, it became like playing a game of Schrödinger’s accounting book,” DeLorenzo said.

DeLorenzo stressed the need for clarity in financial reporting to ensure accountability and proper oversight of transactions.

DeLorenzo also said in the email that since the initial proposal to decrease GJAC’s funding and GJAC’s subsequent choice to appeal the decision, he had spoken twice to GJAC’s leadership to gain a greater understanding of the situation.

“Since GJAC’s official decision to appeal the request, numerous other financial Excel workbooks have been sent over to me to better understand the financial needs of the organization and ensure the Free Menstrual Products initiative continues to run at full capacity,” DeLorenzo said.

Despite these financial intricacies, GJAC successfully secured the initially requested $3.45 per person per year in funding from the S.A. Appropriations Committee after the appeal, with no dissent.

GJAC expressed its relief in an Instagram post, sharing the news that they were “very happy to report that funding has been restored to its original rate,” and thanked supporters. This funding allows the organization to support the provision of essential services on campus, including free menstrual products, pregnancy tests, emergency contraceptives, limited gender-affirming care and gender-inclusive spaces.

Douae Maarouf ’27 is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected].