Restrooms around campus gain updated menstrual product machines that provide free supplies
This past summer select restrooms around campus were equipped with machines that dispense menstrual products for free.
Mike Kenyanya, UMD Student Body President, said “everyone was on board” with the idea of making menstrual products available for no cost.
“We had to figure out where [the machines] would go, how many to get and of course, who would pay for it,” Kenyanya said. “In the Spring of 2017, Mueez Ahmad and I were walking around campus collecting signatures for the upcoming UMD Student Association (UMDSA) Elections. We were in the TV room, just outside the Multicultural Center, and some young women brought up this issue. They said this is the issue they wanted to be addressed by their UMDSA representatives.”
This initiative was facilitated by many different student organizations and members of the UMD community who have knowledge about the topics being discussed. The goal is to provide essential, basic hygiene products to UMD students, staff, and faculty.
“This was a partnership between the Student Association, the Office of Student Life, the Women's Resource & Action Center, Facilities Management and the Commission for Women,” Kenyanya said. “This partnership was extremely important because each group brought something unique to the table. This is an important service and it's an honor that we were able to have a role in making this available for students.”
When UMDSA approached the Commission for Women about the idea of supplying menstrual products in bathrooms, a committee was created to help make it possible.
Jessica Gile Eaton, Assistant Director of Student Activities and Leadership, explained how it was decided where to place the machines.
“We met a few times and determined that we in fact could proceed and that it was feasible to keep it going if we limited the number of machines,” Eaton said. “We were conscious to place the products in areas that were not necessarily easily accessed by the general public. While we're certainly aware that there's a need beyond our students, faculty, and staff, because we're using university dollars to fund the program, we wanted to make sure that our focus was on providing primarily for UMD folks.”
Not only does this program support individuals in monetary need, but it also addresses the issue of simply not having menstrual products in an emergency.
“Sometimes you just don't have a [menstrual product] when you need one, and you don't have a quarter in your bag to buy one,” Eaton said. “The machines on campus were also old and often out of order, so being able to replace them with new ones was a positive change.”
Jade Moorse, the Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC) Intern described WRAC’s involvement and the need to change the dialogue surrounding menstruation and menstrual products.
“[WRAC] was brought in towards the end of meetings last semester to see if we could help out with cost and placement,” Moorse said. “We wanted to make sure the machines were being placed in all gender bathrooms and in main hallways. We all need to stop calling them feminine care products and calling them menstrual care products. They are being placed in all gender bathrooms and people who identify as male menstruate or peple who don’t identify as a gender menstruate, so we need to back away from saying they’re female products. All genders menstruate. Changing language is easy for us all to do.”
The free menstrual supplies can be found in the following restrooms:
SPHC, MWAH 194, Heller Hall 125, Kirby Welcome Desk, Bohannon 103, Bohannon 105, Montague 66, Library 149, Dining Center womens, Dining Center gender inclusive, first floor Humanities, Solon Campus Center, Swenson Science Building