Sanitary napkins, tampons, and panty liners are now available for free in 35 restrooms across campus.
The products first appeared on March 25 in small baskets. Over the following weekend, a note appeared explaining that PERIOD, a national non-profit, is partnering with Emerson Flows, the PERIOD chapter at Emerson, to provide free feminine hygiene products in the most used women’s, men’s, and gender-neutral restrooms on campus.
Freshman Arasha Lalani is the president and founder of Emerson Flows. Lalani said the organization chose the 35 most used restrooms based on a survey provided by Facilities Management. Lalani said the products are all donations. The four-person organization, Emerson Flows, does not receive any funding.
Lalani, who is also regional director of PERIOD, says she hopes this pilot program goes well so it continues every semester from here on out.
“The only concern is that people will come in and say ‘Oh, I need to take this all for later,’” she said, “It’s important to know it’s not going anywhere. It’s here for you. Just take as you need.”
Emerson Flows collects the sanitary products by placing boxes at the Max Mutchnick Campus Center in Piano Row. The group also hosts packing parties or potlucks where every member brings pads or tampons as an admission fee, and receives donations directly from the PERIOD headquarters in Oregon. Lalani then asked the college’s custodial staff to restock the baskets every time they make rounds in the restrooms to replenish the toilet paper. Staff agreed to store the sanitary products.
Junior Abbrianna MacGregor, an off campus student, said this movement will save her a lot of hassle.
“If I get my period in school, I’m not going back to East Boston to get a tampon. I’m probably just going to use toilet paper or paper towels instead,” MacGregor said. “So I’m really happy every time I see the pads and tampons … I feel a lot more comfortable now.”
Freshman Alice Dettmar said she hadn’t noticed there were no tampon dispensers in any of the restrooms at Emerson.
“We shouldn’t assume that every student or staff member is economically advantaged enough to have consistent access to these products,” Dettmar said. “It’s a hygiene product and should have the same ethical value as food or water.
A person who menstruates will spend $7 to $10 on average every month on feminine hygiene products, according to a study by public interest non-profit Our Bodies Our Lives.
The restrooms in the Dining Center and Center Stage, frequented by students and workers, also supply the Emerson Flows baskets.
Dining Center grill cook Joi Taylor said she feels a lot more comfortable knowing she can access these supplies for free.
“It’s like a box of flowers. I love that it’s right there. You don’t have to put a coin in a machine … ” Taylor said. “Sometimes you’re just trying to get what you need and be done with it.”
Sophomore Spencer Kash said he is surprised it’s taken so long to supply free sanitary products on campus.
“They offer free condoms in the health center on campus just to grab,” Kash said. “But they didn’t offer free feminine hygiene products in any areas on campus until now. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about that and how it’s unfair. So I support this completely.”