Providing Free Menstrual Products on Campus

The Reproductive Justice Alliance (RJA), Student Health Educators (SHEs) and the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) have collaborated to introduce a menstrual product pilot program in Frost Library’s gender-neutral and women’s restrooms.

Menstrual products are generally overpriced, and the quantity of these products needed during one’s period can be a social, academic and economic barrier. Worrying about where to find your next pad or tampon can be stressful, and many times, unexpected. The goal of this program is to ease the burdens of menstruation for Amherst students. It is not meant to serve as a student’s only supply, but rather as an alternative or casual resource — possibly in times of emergency. When a friend is not around to covertly slip you a pad or tampon, we hope that this program will serve as a helpful alternative.

Throughout the last semester, the members of the RJA committee devoted their time to expanding the availability of menstrual products and worked to make this program a reality for Amherst students. Though menstrual products are always available in the Women’s and Gender Center in Keefe Campus Center, the RJA was, and still is, interested in expanding these services throughout campus. The AAS was extremely helpful in garnering funding for the program, along with Director of Health Education Amanda Vann from the SHEs and Director of Student Activities Paul Gallegos. Together, we worked to flesh out a pilot program as a first step in providing this service more broadly. We picked Frost as the first location because it is a communal space on campus that serves both an academic and social function. In the restrooms, wall baskets will be installed, with resources restocked two to three times a week if necessary. We’ll keep count of the products being used in order to gauge interest and preference.

We want to stress that this is a small step towards reproductive freedom at Amherst, which is why it is being advertised as a pilot program. We hope to expand once we gather information on the interest and use of different products. Essentially, the more interest we get, the more grounds we have for funding the program. We would love to extend this program to multiple communal buildings and restrooms on campus such as Keefe Campus Center, the Science Center and Valentine Dining Hall to help ease the burdens of menstruation. If you have any comments or questions about the pilot program, please let us know at [email protected]!