Planned Parenthood Generation Action club will begin a free menstrual product pilot program, leading the effort to convince University of Richmond administration to provide free tampons and pads in women's and gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.

PPGA is raising $600 to provide 150 tampons and 100 pads in 15 women’s and gender-neutral bathrooms starting in the spring 2018 semester. The club originally spread a petition to convince the administration to begin supplying free menstrual products but decided they would have to demonstrate the effectiveness of the program first.

Claire Tate, sophomore, president of PPGA, said that tampons in bathrooms around campus were necessary, as menstruation poses a disruption to female students.

“It’s just something people need to be on an even playing field,” Tracy Naschek, sophomore, PPGA member, said. “It’s something that is a necessity.”

PPGA is focusing on the availability of menstrual products in order to address women’s health issues, to reduce the stigma that surrounds women’s menstrual cycles and to show its support for a problem that effects the community, Tate said.

PPGA will host a movie screening by the end of first semester and will table for four days in Tyler Haynes Commons to collect Venmo donations and raise the money needed for the pilot program.

Tate met with Slade Gormus, health promotion program director at UR’s Student Health Center, about the initiative. Gormus said she had supported PPGA’s efforts but worried about the costs of the program.

“I will always support a student with a well-thought-out public health initiative in any capacity that I can,” Gormus said. “Sometimes students just need help focusing on their objectives and understanding the process.”

Only a fraction of bathrooms have been chosen for the initiative to help keep costs down, Tate said. The pilot program will provide products to the bathrooms in the Heilman Dining Center, Boatwright Memorial Library, the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, Weinstein Hall and select others. Bathrooms were selected in high-traffic locations and in areas where students are more likely to stay for longer stretches of time, Tate said.

Tate also said that once the pilot program began, PPGA would use its members as tampon ambassadors who would replenish the products when necessary. 

“We’re going to have to show there’s a difference between a need and an interest, and that it’s beyond a petition,” Tate said.

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