New menstrual product dispensers come to campus

New menstrual product dispensers come to campus
A student uses the current menstrual product dispenser. Some of the bins will soon be replaced by machines. Photo by Camryn Hay.

The Augustana Student Association (ASA) voted last month to fund the purchase of menstrual product dispensers to be placed in 17 bathrooms on campus.

ASA allocated $7,650 to Healthy Accessible Prevention and Protection for You to purchase dispensers (about $200 each) to replace the current bins that reside in many bathrooms. H.A.P.P.Y. also used the money to purchase about 17,000 pads and tampons. The dispensers will be placed all across campus in “high traffic” bathrooms, including one per floor in the academic buildings, the commons and the library. The products are provided free of charge.

H.A.P.P.Y. is a student organization “dedicated to promoting equitable access to hygiene and healthcare products on campus,” according to their Viking Central page. In the past, the group has held menstrual product drives and stocked the current menstrual product bins across campus.

“It initially only functioned through the bathroom stalls with the menstrual products,” H.A.P.P.Y. President Amara Rodis said. “Since then it has grown into a conversation.”

The resolution, introduced by junior ASA senator Tatiana Chance, identifies ASA’s goal of working toward basic human and social freedoms for Augustana students as reason for the dispensers.

“Acknowledging period poverty is one step toward understanding health equity and offering anyone the right of health options and dignity,” Rodis.

Chance said the dispensers placed on the wall hold more products than the current bins, which have been “routinely empty.” The dispensers hold 50 pads and 50 tampons each and will not have to be filled as often as the bins required. The bins will be moved to gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.

Chance said that although there were a few questions, the resolution to fund the dispensers was “well received” in ASA.

“Some senators asked if this really was a need,” Chance said. “Some asked about its financial stability. It was a long discussion. However, it was entirely necessary.”

Freshman senator Annie Johnston said she voted to fund the dispensers because she believes having access to period products is a fundamental right.

“This takes a direct stance against period poverty and is a necessary right for our students,” Johnston said.

Senior senator Laura Hartke said she believes that installing the dispensers will allow students to focus more on academics instead of worrying about their period, prompting her “yes” vote on the resolution.

“Access to period products poses a stress,” Hartke said. “These dispensers will allow more students to focus on their academics with access to these dispensers all over campus.”

Rodis said she is excited for the dispensers and she hopes they will start conversations about period poverty on campus.

“Going to Augustana is a privilege and a wonderful opportunity,” Rodis said. “That being said, everyone’s story and situation while being a student here is different. I’m happy to say that through these dispensers we are providing one less resource to worry about.”

A correction was made on this story at 1:43 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 19 to correctly represent the cost of supplies and what the ASA funds were used for.