Menstrual products were made available in certain women's bathrooms on campus starting this semester due to an initiative from Planned Parenthood Generation Action.
“Menstrual products should be a reproductive right,” said senior Claire Tate, Planned Parenthood Generation Action president.
Since her sophomore year in 2017, PPGA members have been trying to get menstrual products put into all womens’ bathrooms on campus, Tate said. Tate said her reason for starting the initiative had been to advocate for females' rights to menstrual products. First, PPGA had tried to raise money for the menstrual products through petition. However, after multiple attempts, the petitions failed because of a lack of donations from students and staff members for the menstrual products, Tate said.
Instead, Tate said, PPGA decided to contact the Westhampton College Government Association for financial support at the end of 2017. After hearing Tate's reason for wanting to start the initiative of providing menstrual products, WCGA agreed to give contingency funding to PPGA to help support the initiative.
WCGA is not the only group that is helping support this project.
In the spring of 2019 she had contacted Scott Lincoln, manager of UR's Custodial and Environmental Services. Tate had contacted Lincoln specifically because of his access to the restrooms and responsibilities to stock them with the necessary supplies and keep track of inventory, she said.
“We [Tate and Lincoln] partnered with the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement and provided operational support,” Lincoln said.
Lincoln, who continues to help PPGA, ordered the menstrual products at the end of last year and installed them the first week of classes, Tate said. As a University Facilities employee, Lincoln has been the one to fill the dispensers with menstrual products.
“I meet with Lincoln every other week and they’re being used," Tate said. "Every week he has to restock the dispensers.”
Empty dispensers show that the initiative is in high demand, Tate added.
Girls love knowing there are bathrooms with menstrual products provided for them, and on multiple occasions, girls have texted her asking which bathrooms had the products, Tate said.
As of now, the buildings with menstrual product dispensers in bathrooms are the Gottwald Center for the Sciences, Jepson Hall and the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, Tate said.
“We hope to put one in the library by the end of next semester," she added.
There is a lot of support behind this movement, sophomores Rachel Bollinger and Mollie Sequeira said.
“It would help when girls are rather unprepared,” Bollinger said.
Bollinger said she had heard stories about girls at UR who could not afford menstrual products and suffered because of it, which had led her to believe that no female should ever be put in that situation when they are in a dilemma they have no control over.
“Periods are expensive and so is going to college," Sequeira said. "I think having access to something that is inevitable for most women is a great thing.”
Planned Parenthood is known for being about women’s rights, which include menstrual products being available, Tate said.
"Menstrual products are like toilet paper," Tate added. "The two are equally important."
Letting girls on campus have a say in the initiative is key, Tate said.
"PPGA has a QR code with a review asking what other locations would you like to see this [the dispensers] in," Tate said.
Tate said that anyone who may want additional information on the project could direct her questions or concerns to her, other members of PPGA or Lincoln.
Contact features writer Haley Gibbons at firstname.lastname@example.org.