Kent State Pilots The Period Project
The Period Project
In an effort to create an equitable environment for all students, Kent State University Undergraduate Student Government (USG) with support and guidance from the Women’s Center piloted the Period Project. Claire Weihe, Senior Public Health student and Women’s Center intern, utilized her position and educational experience to advocate for free menstruation products in bathrooms across campus. Although momentum for this project began years ago, the pilot officially started with USG support in Spring of 2019.
In addition to advocating for the products and in an effort to support an Ohio woman-owned business, Claire encouraged collaboration with current supplier Aunt Flow. Other important reasons to work with Aunt Flow included their utilization of inclusive language, organic products and competitive price. Aunt Flow also partners with several other universities including Princeton and Brown University as well as local Ohio schools, Denison and Ohio University.
After the pilot in spring 2019, survey responses confirmed the need and provided the impetus for not only the continuation, but also the expansion of the initial program. The original pilot, which included 8 restrooms, doubled this fall to 16 restrooms, including 3 universal and 3 men’s restrooms to be inclusive to all who menstruate as well as allies.
Assessment of the pilot included over 1000 survey responses indicating 91% of respondents who menstruate have gotten their period unexpectedly in public without access to menstrual products, and 98% of those surveyed agreed the program should continue. Of greater concern were the 37.13% who indicated they had been financially unable to purchase menstrual products, with 49% indicating that lack of access to these products has led to a negative performance in work or school.
National data indicates that “nearly 25 million women live below the poverty line in the United States, but menstrual products are still not covered by food stamps” (Magistretti, 2019). Although a luxury tax on menstrual products still exists in 34 states, Ohio recently eliminated the “pink tax” or “tampon tax” on menstrual products. New York went a step further, providing period products for free in public schools, prisons and homeless shelters.
According to NYC Councilman Finance Chair, Julissa Ferris Copeland, “The minute you have to ask someone for something you need for your normal bodily function, you’re creating a barrier. This is something you shouldn't have to ask for…”
Currently the expense of providing free menstruation products at Kent State is being shared between Undergraduate Student Government, the Department of Student Affairs and the Women’s Center.
To learn more about the Period Project and the Women’s Center, go to www.kent.edu/womenscenter or email Women’s Center Director Cassandra Pegg-Kirby at firstname.lastname@example.org or Claire Weihe at email@example.com.
Magistretti, B. (2019, January 25). FemTech: Period Poverty is a Thing, Even in the U.S. Retrieved January 15, 2020, from http://www.forbes.com/.