Free menstrual products to come to four campus bathrooms, one gender-neutral
Free tampons and menstrual pads will be available in four CMU bathrooms beginning this week, Student Government Association Vice President Lyndi Rose announced at SGA’s Sept. 30 meeting. This marks the second year Rose has spearheaded the Menstrual Hygiene Product Initiative.
As of Tuesday, Oct. 1, tampons and pads will be available in the women’s bathroom on the first floor of the Bovee University Center and the gender-neutral bathroom on the UC’s lower level. Later this week, Rose will begin stocking the women’s bathroom on the first floor of Charles V. Park Library and the women’s bathroom on the first floor of the Student Activity Center.
The stations will each be refilled once weekly with about 75 tampons and 30 pads, likely on Tuesdays. The products are sourced by Aunt Flow, a non-profit organization which manufactures 100 percent organic menstrual products for schools and businesses.
Last year, Rose brought free tampons to three campus bathrooms. That number was reduced to two when one of the plastic containers which held the tampons, and cost about $30, went missing. Rose said she believes it was stolen because it resembled a makeup brush holder. Now Rose is using $14 weave baskets from Walmart which she believes will be less attractive to potential thieves.
SGA meetings take place 7 p.m. every Monday in Bovee University Center Auditorium and are free for all students to attend.
CMU has contracted with its tampon provider since the 1970’s, Rose said, which stocks 72 dispensers in women’s bathrooms across campus. These dispensers, however, are unreliable: over a dozen are broken, eating up quarters and not dispensing any products, and many are irregularly refilled, she said.
The contract expires in May 2020, and Rose is hoping that the data she’s collecting on her free menstrual product stations will demonstrate that it’s a sustainable, medically necessary resource that students won’t abuse, and could possibly replace the paid tampon dispensers altogether. She said CMU’s administration has previously deemed her initiative a “wild card.”
“At one point we had thousands of views, hundreds of posts, hundreds of likes on this,” Rose said. “It got enough media attention I felt like they should be listening and they still weren’t. So now that it’s 2020 and they have the power to change it, if they don’t, they’re going to be hearing from me.”
Rose introduced the Menstrual Hygiene Product Initiative two years ago as a senator in SGA. The legislation she drafted was sponsored by 30 registered student organizations, making it SGA’s most-sponsored legislation ever, and over 700 students signed a petition in favor of the initiative. The 2017-18 SGA administration did not follow through on the project, so Rose made it a cornerstone of her platform when she ran for Vice President the following year.
Since being elected Vice President last year, Rose has single-handedly led the Menstrual Hygiene Product Initiative, restocking the stations, presenting the data she collects to the Board of Trustees, and attempting to persuade the administration to adopt it as campus policy.
“If I do not get a response or some sort of feedback or sign of investment in the administration, I’m going to CM Life,” she said. “I’m going to write an editorial that CMU needs to invest in the students, and it’s not going to be just about tampons. It’s going to be about a variety of things I’ve seen during my time here.”