Brandeis facilities has placed menstrual products, including tampons and pads, in eight bathrooms around the Brandeis campus as part of the Student Union menstrual products initiative. The initiative was spearheaded by the Union Campus Operations Working Group (COW-G) and the Health and Safety committee.
The project is being funded and stocked through Facilities Services, rather than the Student Union. Though the budget has not been finalized, COW-G chair Richard Kisack ’19 says the proposed budget for the semester was between $5,000 and $10,000. The Union is waiting for facilities to confirm the budget.
Kisack spoke about his hopes for the project, saying, “I would hope that students economically are a little less burdened and I would hope that students feel comfortable on campus and see the fiscal ways that campus actually serves them.”
The initiative began in fall 2016 and went through a trial period in the academic year of 2017. Six bathrooms were stocked with 8,000 menstrual products for one month in March 2017 to test the project, and funded by a Senate Money Resolution (SMR) for just under $1,000. The resolution passed unanimously.
After this trial period, the Union examined data collected on pads and tampons and sent out a survey. Members of the Union met with Jim Gray, the vice president for operations, in fall 2018, where Facilities agreed to supply the menstrual products. After the meeting, Kisack released a survey to find out what high traffic bathrooms would be preferred by the student body to have menstrual products.
The products were stocked in the eight bathrooms, including the bathrooms in the first floor of Farber Library, the first floor of Goldfarb Library, the mailroom, the first floor of the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC), the first floor of the Gerstenzang Science Library, the first floor of Sherman, the first floor of Mandel and the SCC’s second floor gender neutral bathroom.
Kisack hopes that the initiative will be permanently funded by Facilities. “Tampons and pads are extremely expensive,” he said, and continued that, because the majority of the Brandeis population use menstrual products, this initiative is important to keep running.
Kisack said that one of the biggest challenges to complete the project was slow communication and high turnover in the Union, which made the initiative difficult to continue. Kisack was proud, however, that the project has been fully implemented.
“It shows that the campus, that the Brandeis Student Union as well as Brandeis University cares about our students and cares about their well-being and their life and making sure they enjoy their time while at Brandeis,” he said.
Director of Communications for the Union, Rachel McAllister ’21, worked on the project by sharing information and communicating with the rest of the Union. She said that, at least from word of mouth, the project had been well received by the student body.
McAllister also spoke about her hopes for the project. “I hope that they like the products I hope that if they don’t that we continue to get feedback and we continue to change and modify what we’re doing,” she said.
“I think this is filling a need that we’ve heard for a long time.”