Free menstrual product dispensers are being installed in the first-floor female and gender-neutral bathrooms of academic buildings at Case Western Reserve University.
The dispensers will contain tampons by Tampax Tampons and pads (#4 Maxi Pads) and will be restocked each night. Their installation is the culmination of an initiative started in the Spring 2017 semester by a task force that involved many offices and student organizations on campus.
Naomi Sigg, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, who was co-chair of the task force, explained that the dispensers are important for those who have limited access to menstrual products. She pointed out that the task force hopes that various offices will also supply menstrual cups, to a smaller degree, across campus.
“I don’t think any of us were expecting the turnaround we got,” said Cameron Childers, president of the Residence Hall Association. “…It was a very strong example of administration and student organizations working together for the benefit of everyone on our campus.”
Thus far, no individuals interviewed said they heard any backlash to the dispensers being installed.
As part of their work, the Menstrual Product and Sexual Health Taskforce examined how other universities added dispensers. The usage and the name of the task force itself was carefully chosen, explained Victoria Hamilton, president of the Feminist Collective at CWRU.
Hamilton and Geneva Magsino, who worked in the Office of Multicultural Affairs and is now President of the Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative, felt that the dispensers should also be placed in men’s bathrooms, because there are individuals who use the men’s bathroom and do menstruate. They believed that putting the dispensers in men’s bathrooms would address the needs of these individuals on campus.
Magsino said that when the task force had considered pushing for their placement in men’s bathrooms, they faced resistance. Ivy Petsinger, President of the Undergraduate Student Government, pointed out that USG Resolution R. 26-02 passed last February, had called for the addition of the products to all bathrooms.
Hamilton said that the Feminist Collective would consider ways to push for that addition this semester.
The following groups were involved in the initiative, in no order: The Office of Multicultural Affairs Undergraduate Student Government, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center, Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, Residence Hall Association University Health and Counseling Services, Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative, Feminist Collective Women in Science and Engineering (WISER), Radical Student Union, Voices: A Women of Color Collaborative and the Graduate Student Council.
The installation is planned to be complete before classes begin.