SGA organizing Period Equity Project for menstruating students

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Webster University’s 139 bathrooms will soon be stocked with menstrual pads and tampons for students. The Student Government Association is working to launch the Period Equity Project.

When Webster students use the restrooms on campus, they have almost all the things they need – toilet paper, soap, paper towels. The one thing that students don’t have free access to is menstrual products.

“If we provide free toilet paper and soap,” Assistant Professor Jody Spiess said. “Why don’t our students have access to free materials that they need once a month?”

Webster University’s Student Government Association (SGA) is on a mission for menstrual equity with the Period Equity Project. Expected to be fully launched in March 2022, this initiative will ensure that all of Webster University’s 139 bathrooms will be stocked with menstrual pads and tampons.

SGA is partnering with Aunt Flow, a women-owned company, to provide Webster students with 100% organic cotton, biodegradable, period products. These pads and tampons also create a third less waste than traditional menstrual products.

Student Government Association President Hannah Jirousek poses in front of one of the 139 bathrooms soon to have free period products. Photo by Vanessa Jones.

Hannah Jirousek, president of SGA, has supported the Period Equity Project as the chair of the Period Equity Project Committee. Jirousek was also a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee last year, which assisted in conducting the initial research on period equity.

“Last year, we decided we, as SGA, wanted to support students with periods,” Jirousek said. “This year, we figured out how. Now, we are working to iron out the specifics about the upcoming installation, processing the purchase and creating marketing materials.”

According to Jirousek, it was also important that the initiative is inclusive of all Webster University students, ensuring that every person with a period is supported on campus. Period product dispensers will be installed in the women’s, men’s and all-gender restrooms to achieve this goal.

The supply dispensers are also Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and include braille and Spanish words.

“This project strives to support the Webster community by advancing menstrual equity, which is the accessibility, affordability, education and safety of menstrual products for people with periods,” Jirousek said. “You’ll note that we use the phrases ‘people with periods’ or ‘menstruators’ because not everyone who has a period identifies as a woman.”

Jody Spiess is a public health nurse, assistant professor and Webster alumna. She has been an advocate for the initiative and has created marketing materials to help generate funds and awareness for the project.

“I heard about it and really loved the idea,” Spiess said. “So, I put out a video of sort of this plea to the faculty and to the alumni association just saying, ‘Hey, this is why it’s important,’ and so really I’m just trying to help the students raise money.”

Through actions like these and students within SGA spearheading the project, Jirousek said much of the Webster University community has chipped in to spread knowledge and support for the project.

“It is very rewarding to see a project I’ve spent so much time on get positive feedback. I’m very excited for student menstruators to have access to free supplies on campus,” Jirousek said.

Organizers of the project have launched a crowdfunding effort to support the implementation of the Period Equity Project. Show your support by visiting https://bit.ly/3I2AxPJ.

 

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Micah Barnes
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