Following a name change, Period Activists at ‘Deis (PAD) continue their work on menstrual education and equality.
The name change was caused by recent controversy with the club’s parent organization, PERIOD. “We were originally a chapter of the national nonprofit PERIOD which chapters on a bunch of campuses,” PAD president Cassady Adams ’22 told The Brandeis Hoot in a Zoom interview. Over the summer, some information came out regarding the organization and the founder Nadya Okamoto, accusing her of plagiarism from Black and LatinX menstrual artists, Adams told The Hoot. After this, they decided to stop being a chapter of the organization.
However they continued “doing our work as a newly established organization and not connected to that nonprofit,” Adams explained. The primary change was the club’s mission statement, however their main pillars of work did not change, since PERIOD did not shape what the club did. We do try to “foster a more inclusive environment,” Madison Leifer ’22, the Service Chair of PAD, told The Hoot in an interview.
“Before PERIOD, the organization did not assist us with the work we were doing,” Adams explained. “The founder was promoting herself but not acknowledging all the work people in the different chapters were doing.”
After the name change, their work has remained relatively similar: menstrual education and community service, such as donation of products to food pantries and public schools, and advocacy, such as to get rid of the tampon tax. From the service standpoint, the club is working to prioritize buying products from Black-owned companies and to donate to the Waltham community, while also trying to reach more immigrant needs in the Waltham area. PAD also tries to use their donations to support Black-owned businesses. “When we can, we buy them from Black-owned shops as opposed to larger corporations,” said Leifer.
PAD also started a monthly magazine, PAD Monthly, to create an empowering space without having to meet in-person, Adams told The Hoot. “We wanted to create a menstrual justice space digitally that members could contribute to,” she said. Since then the magazine has been developed, it has gotten a lot of attention, according to Leifer and Adams, with them even receiving international submissions. The magazine publishes what they receive, from artwork to poetry to op-eds. There is also a monthly advice column. It is open to anyone at Brandeis and outside to submit menstruation-related artwork.
Currently, PAD is focused on planning more events for students. They recently finished up an event in collaboration with CampusCup, where they provided free menstrual cups for Brandeis students to pick up. In total, they were able to provide this resource to 303 Brandeis students.
This week, PAD is holding a “Paint and Policy Night,” where students can come and craft while engaging in a discussion about menstrual justice policy, specifically on things such as the tampon tax. Followed by this will be an Earth Day event, which highlights sustainable menstruation and eco-friendly period products, such as reusable pads and period underwear. PAD is also launching a semesterly menstrual product drive, which would occur sometime near move out at the end of the year.
PAD holds weekly meetings, and always encourages more people to come and become members of their club. These weekly meetings alternate between educational and social meetings every other week. Educational meetings are meetings where a member chooses a menstruation topic and presents it, with the goal of teaching and educating others. From period cravings to menstruation in horror movies, these meetings are open to anyone who wants to join and is passionate about what they want to teach. These educational meetings have Q&A segments and are very interactive between members and students who join. For the social meetings, PAD adopts a more relaxed and casual tone, and hosts a space for people to just come and hang out while getting to know each other better.
Through their meetings, PAD provides an empowering space to talk about menstrual health and feminism. Whether someone is new or a recurring visitor, there is always much to learn from PAD’s weekly meetings. There are also many conversations that surround menstrual products, which help destigmatize them and make them more approachable to new users. Each weekly meeting is a genuine opportunity to bring up new ideas, talk about one’s own experiences and help menstruators throughout Brandeis and the greater Waltham community. PAD makes this space as inclusive as possible, and welcomes everyone to hop in and join one of their weekly meetings to help fight the stigma surrounding menstrual health.
Their future goals for the club are to gain more members and to reach out to a wider audience. The club has only been around for a little over two years, and half of that time was during the COVID-19 pandemic. The club’s goals expand outside of the club itself, as it is part of a larger movement: they continue to work towards the communal goal of menstrual equality.