Period Activists at ’Deis (PAD) led an initiative this year through funding from the Student Union to bring menstrual products to facilities across campus, free of charge to community members. The group was denied funding from the administration after requesting funding to continue the program for the next academic year has been denied, according to an Instagram post from the campus organization.
“Despite our proof that the Pilot Program significantly improves the lives of menstruators in North, East and Massell Quads, the administration has denied the request for funding in the Facilities budget to absorb the cost of the Pilot Program,” the post read.
PAD added that “The pilot program is not going anywhere,” but they add “students will have to continue to have to source funding and put in hundreds of hours of unpaid work in re-stocking the Pilot Program menstrual dispensers. This not only continues to put the labor onto students, but also demonstrates that this administration does not care about meeting our needs.”
PAD has created a petition so that students can show their support. As of the time of writing, the petition has obtained more than 150 signatures from undergraduate students and graduate students. It mentions that “The facilities department requested $43,000 in their FY24 budget for absorbing the cost of the Pilot Program by paying for an external contractor to control the 52 dispensers.” Having control of these dispensers includes the responsibilities of refilling them, funding the product and managing the repair of broken dispensers.
“This contractor is the company Citron, who has an existing contract with both the Brandeis facilities department and Aunt Flow. This allocation of money would have removed the burden of upkeep of the program off of students and allowed for PAD and SU to focus on implementing another Pilot elsewhere on campus, to expand access further,” reads the petition.
In the petition, PAD also cites the high demand that students have for free menstrual products, noting “108 respondents out of 184 (58.7%) indicated experiencing difficulties accessing menstrual products in fall 2022, compared to only 8 out of 176 (4.5%) who indicated experiencing difficulties in spring 2023. 52 out of 184 respondents (28.3%) reported having difficulty affording menstrual products in the fall 2022 semester, versus 12 out of 176 (6.8%) in the Spring 2023 semester. 21 out of 184 respondents (11.4%) reported missing 3+ classes per period in the Fall 2022 semester, versus 5 out of 176 (2.8%) in the spring 2023 semester.”
The petition also noted that “PAD’s efforts have also been supported by the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC), Heller graduate students, PhD students and a network of faculty, staff and administrative allies. The Faculty Senate has also provided positive feedback as well, in support of our efforts.”
PAD also notes in the petition that “The facilities budget is being cut in several places, not just menstrual products. However, we were told from administration to let them know ‘if [we] are aware of other student services that [we] think are of a lesser (and equal cost) priority and then we can discuss possibly reallocating costs from one program to another.’ Essentially placing the responsibility on us to decide what to cut from their budget if we want to fund our project. This is not only not our job, but also defeats the purpose of the initiative and implies that all student needs are competing for validity, instead of agreeing that they are all important,” they continue, adding that “funding is the one issue we cannot solve for the administration. We, as students, do not have a voice in campus-wide funding conversations. We have proven the need, support and effectiveness of this program. Now, it is the administration’s job to provide students with what they need.”
The distribution of free menstrual products began in December 2022 in East Quad, North Quad and Massell Quad, according to a previous Brandeis Hoot article. The initiative came as a collaboration between Student Union President Peyton Gillespie ’25 and members of PAD including PAD President Kyla Speizer ’23 and PAD Advocacy Chair Grace Lassila ’25.