If you live in Warren Olney residence hall (WO), you might have noticed a small change in the bathrooms recently — free menstrual products. If you don’t live on campus, you might be shocked; wouldn’t it be obvious to provide menstrual products for free in the bathrooms of students who menstruate?
The new menstrual products can be found in WO bathrooms in wire baskets, hanging on the bathroom wall. Included are pads, tampons and liners. While they aren’t the highest quality — the tampons have cardboard inserts, and some students have compared the pads to diapers — WO residents appreciate the gesture.
It took a whole school year and multiple student initiatives for the products to find a permanent home in the bathrooms.
Second-year student Zoe Burridge shares their experience organizing with students to bring menstrual products to community bathrooms during the pandemic.
“We all banded together and started our own little collection of period products because most of us in our hall menstruate and we were sick of having to go back and forth from our rooms whenever we started bleeding. It just made sense to, at our own homes we all have menstrual stuff in our cabinets [within] an arm’s reach, and this is our home away from home, why can’t it be the same? We use a system where we left what we could and only took what we need. It was really nice when people would just leave pads or tampons there for anyone to use if they were unfortunate enough to be caught off guard one day,” she said. “I knew I was kinda shocked when our AC (Area Coordinator) had sent an email asking students to stop leaving community menstrual products in the bathrooms. I understand their concern for COVID safety, but we all have assigned bathrooms and we are essentially in our own bubbles”
A third-year who would like to be referred to as ‘May’, explains how the menstrual products helped her at a time of financial insecurity.
“I was really struggling, balancing [paying for] school and food, and forgot to pick up tampons once, it was just so nice to have them already there in the bathroom. I had been using the ones that other people in my hall had left and was kinda nervous when an email was sent asking for them [the products] to be moved from the space,” she said. “I know I’m not the only one who is unable to get tampons and pads sometimes so it felt like we were all holding our breath waiting for the next move. I was really surprised when I saw the baskets. I use them still, but [they’re] not as nice as the others.”
Other Millsies also expressed their gratitude to this change on MillsGo.
Why it took so long to add menstrual products to residential bathrooms is unknown, but what is known is that this change adds a little bit more comfort to Mills students.