On Thursday, Oct. 17, SGA’s Cultural and Diversity Affairs Committee (CDAC) hosted a public kick off in the Student Alumni House for the Menstrual Product Program (MPP). The program’s goal is to provide free menstrual hygiene products in restrooms around campus.
“The program was really inspired by the stories students had about how access to these different sorts of things can really improve your college experience. So many students had stories about how a
lack of access to menstrual products really impacted them and the stigma surrounding it in terms of how difficult it is to ask someone else, if you don’t have any yourself and you’re in a situation where you can’t get to menstrual products when you really need them,” said Kyle Smith, CDAC Co-Chair and 2nd-year PUBP.
During the 2019 spring semester, SGA, CDAC and the Center for the Study of Women, Science, and Technology (WST) acquired their $30,000 budget through SAA’s Gift to Tech, which is voted on by the student body and funded by membership dues in Tech’s
The launch phase of the project has officially been initiated, and members of CDAC have begun to place the dispensers containing tampons and pads in various restrooms spread around campus. The eleven dispensers will be placed in one women’s and one gender-inclusive restroom in Clough, Mason, Smithgall, West Village and Klaus, with the exception of Scheller where there is not a single-stall gender-inclusive restroom.
Placing the dispensers in gender-inclusive restrooms in addition to the female restrooms makes the menstrual products available in neutral locations for
all students who are in need, regardless of gender identity.
“The reason and the rationale behind the buildings selected is because there was a need for geographic diversity. That way, hopefully, is someone is on one side of campus, they will have the same access as someone that’s on the other side of campus. We want something that’s easily accessible to all students regardless of gender because there are students that do not identify with the binary gender choices and we have to make sure that every student feels empowered to be able to have access to those products without the stigma surrounding them,
which is why the gender inclusive restrooms are so important,”
The program has partnered with Aunt Flow, a company known for their organic menstrual products and distributions to schools and businesses around the U.S. Aunt Flow is also the manufacturer of the dispensing machines that will be installed in the bathrooms.
“The whole idea behind selecting Aunt Flow was that Aunt Flow is a company that really cares about sustainability. They have created products that are biodegradable and from the user’s perspective they have been called comfortable and so those are the things that were important to the co-chairs last year in terms of deciding which company to go with to provide the products,”
The committee plans to use electronic feedback forms conducted through Qualtrics to gather data throughout the rest of the semester. They also plan to use this data to work with facilities’ management and to better estimate how often products need to be restocked or bought to keep up with campus demand. The program began with 500 pads and 500 tampons and has already used $3,210 from their $30,000 budget.
After its initial phase is over, the committee hopes to use the data gathered to expand the project past the eleven initial dispensers. “This is really important to us because ultimately we believe the distribution of the menstrual products should be something that is eventually going to be in all buildings across campus,” said Genny Kennedy, Vice President of Student Life and 4th-year INTA.