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Period Activists at ‘Deis works on providing free menstrual products to students

Period Activists at ‘Deis (PAD)—a student run club on campus fighting for menstrual justice, according to their Instagram page—is currently working on an initiative that will provide free menstrual products to students by distributing them in residence halls.

Currently, PAD is trying to gauge student need. To identify where the menstrual products are needed most, the club has created a survey for students to fill out. It is meant to help them get a better idea of the impacts that access to these products would have on campus. In an email interview with The Brandeis Hoot, Savannah Jackson ’22, PAD’s Advocacy Chair, said that PAD “is hoping to improve free access to menstrual products for menstruators on the Brandeis campus.” In spring 2020, they were working with the Student Union to “figure out where it would be most helpful to provide complementary products in existing dispensers in academic buildings.”

However, with COVID-19 things changed: it “reminded us all about how much time we spend in our rooms, and we realized that the dorms are a neglected area on campus when it comes to conversations about menstrual product access,” wrote Jackson. “The idea came to [Jackson] during [her] sophomore year. SSIS puts out bags of condoms in the dorm hallways every semester and they put them in very visible places—usually pinned to the wall near entryways or lounges.” From that, she wanted to do something like this, except with menstrual products: to build “an environment on campus where we’re okay with seeing pads or tampons in public spaces,” she wrote. However, this also came from need; many menstruators often find themselves in situations where they do not have products on them when they are needed. 

Although in the previous academic year PAD distributed over 300 menstrual cups, they also want to cater to students who are uncomfortable using them. “We wanted to make sure we continued to focus on improving access to different types of products and across different spaces on campus,” said Jackson.  

“Our ultimate goal is to have free menstrual products available in every building on campus, and in spaces that are accessible to all menstruators. Some menstruators don’t identify as female and might not be comfortable entering women’s restrooms, so we want to make sure that menstrual products are accessible in other locations as well,” wrote Jackson. 

Currently, there are menstrual product dispensers in nine bathrooms around campus; however, not all of them work. Additionally, many students do not know about the existence of these dispensers. PAD is currently in talks with Facilities and the Student Union to try to fix these issues, according to Jackson. 

However, they are currently facing hurdles with funding and logistics. PAD is working “on applying to [Community Enhancement and Emergency Fund] to secure funding for this initiative, and recently put together and distributed a survey, which is one part of how [PAD is] getting some answers to our questions about logistics.” They wanted to assure that they are getting what Brandeis menstruators want and need.

The Community Enhancement and Emergency Fund (CEEF) is a type of funding offered by the university which reaches a total amount of $250,000 that is refilled to the amount through every rollover year, according to their university page. CEEF offers full, partial and no funding for projects on campus, according to the page

Currently, PAD is focusing on getting free menstrual products in the freshman quads for fall 2021, however, if they are able to get enough funding, they would also like to put some products in East Quad. “If the spring [2022] semester goes well, [PAD is] hoping to be able to expand and put products in upperclassmen residence buildings in the near future.”

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