In an effort toward menstrual equity on campus, Ohio University’s Student Senate secured funding to ensure the accessibility of period products in campus restrooms.
Currently, the Senate provides funds for the supply of period products in Baker Center and Alden Library's women's restrooms. However, the recent approval from the university's President's Office has granted the Senate approximately $260,000 to allocate toward the supply of menstrual products throughout all bathrooms on OU’s Athens campus.
Leading the project is Megan Handle, a senior studying social work and current president of Student Senate. Handle began this project in the Fall Semester of 2022 as the Student Senate's Women’s Affairs Commissioner.
“(Access to these products) alleviates a lot of pressure and financial pressure,” Handle said. “College is expensive – paying to go here, paying to live here, paying for food and basic needs; period products are, or should be a basic need. Having the university provide (those products) just takes some stress off of students.”
New dispensers will be installed in campus bathrooms to hold organic tampons and pads provided by Aunt Flow, a company that supplies menstrual products to businesses and schools.
Classic Solutions INC. provides the university with janitorial products and supplies and will work on this project. Classic Solutions will deliver the Aunt Flow products and put the products in the university building’s supply closets to not give added tasks to university facility workers, Handle said.
Samantha Pelham, a university spokesperson, said the university is currently working toward initiating the first phase of the project which includes getting new dispensers and products in campus bathrooms.
With the kickstart of the first steps of the project, management is being phased out of the Student Senate’s responsibility and into the university’s President’s Office.
Handle hopes to replace the current period products and dispensers in Alden Library and Baker Center by the end of October as the first step of their campus-wide project. The next locations will include high-traffic restroom areas such as Ping Recreation Center, Peden Stadium, The Convo and dining halls across campus.
Handle initiated the project after experiencing frustration with empty dispensers in campus restrooms, feeling that the university should do more to support students with menstrual needs. Her hope for this project is to guarantee that students who menstruate have convenient access to safe and affordable products without a financial burden, according to a previous Post report.
“I feel like it would just be so much easier to be able to focus on what we’re here for, academics and all the other fun stuff you get to do (while you’re here) … if you can rely on the university to provide a basic need,” Handle said.
Pelham said the funding request was initially presented to former OU President Hugh Sherman during the 2023 Spring Semester, and he pledged $50,000 would be dedicated to the project within a five-year time frame. She said the goal is to ensure free access to period products in restrooms across the Athens campus by 2028.
Handle said menstrual hygiene is an essential aspect of overall health and well-being, and access to affordable products can be a challenge for many college students. Inaccessibility to these products can disrupt academic success and the daily lives of students.
Students uninvolved with the project still see its benefits. Megan Licata, a freshman studying middle childhood education, shared Handle’s sentiments and supports the continuation of the project.
“I think having access to these products for free is super beneficial,“ Licata wrote in an email. "People who have periods spend so much money on products that having this access as a college student gives one less financial stress students have to worry about."