ASLMU began the first phase of their new menstrual hygiene initiative of installing dispensaries with free period products into restrooms around campus.
Seven dispensaries were added around campus. They can be found in the library, St. Robert’s Hall, Malone, the Life Sciences Building, the Burns Recreation Center and two dispensaries can be found on the first floor of University Hall. ASLMU was inspired by other menstrual justice movements and wanted to join the ripple effect of destigmatizing and normalizing menstruation and menstrual products.
“I saw them in the U-Hall bathroom before class. I thought it was really cool and I got excited," said Jasmine Sweeney, a freshman psychology major. "There’s a lot of controversy going on about menstruation and whether the products should be taxed or if there should even be a price placed on products that people need every month, so I think it's really good that they’re actually implementing [this project] on campus.”
ASLMU began organizing this project over the summer at their leadership retreat, as well as throughout the semester. They spent a lot of time talking to facilities management about who will install the dispensaries and who will restock the product. They also had to figure out how to budget and allocate funds to the project. Currently, the funding is coming out of ASLMU’s budget.
The brand being used is Aunt Flow, a brand most recognized for its gender neutral language and transparency in product ingredients. The founder of Aunt Flow, Claire Coder, explained in the brand’s mission statement, “I am on a mission to ensure everyone has access to quality menstrual products. For every 10 tampons and pads we sell, we donate one to a menstruator in need. I call this people helping people”. So far, the brand has donated over 350,000 menstrual products to people in need.
Emily Sinksy, Vice President of ASLMU, talked about their motivation to begin this initiative. “We wanted to get dispensaries and not just baskets on the counter because this is mounted on the wall. You know if it's empty. We wanted to create institutional change that we should have period products accessible,” said Sinsky.
In her first year with ASLMU, Sinsky talked about the different opportunities ASLMU has to enact change on campus. “[The menstrual hygiene initiative is] really showing what ASLMU has the power to do and I hope that it inspires people to look and say ‘I can be an agent of change. I want to run for ASLMU or get a position next year’ because you really do have the opportunity to work with these higher-ups in the University and have funding accessible to do big projects like this," said Sinsky.
Sweeney also expressed that she hopes the project will expand. “I hope they put them in dorm halls because a lot of the time, we’ll need them while we’re doing ordinary things in our rooms,” said Sweeney. Currently, the menstrual products have only been installed in seven women’s restrooms. However, ASLMU hopes to expand this project into Gender Neutral restrooms and men’s restrooms.
The menstrual hygiene initiative is only one of the many projects ASLMU plans to bring to LMU. Other projects they have been working on include land acknowledgement for indigenous communities, gender inclusive housing, Wellness Wednesdays and the textbook initiative where students can bring in used textbooks to Student Leadership Development or borrow them.