Take a Tampon Leave a Tampon – Ann Arbor, MI – Barger Leadership Institute Student Voices

Take a Tampon Leave a Tampon – Ann Arbor, MI

Project Goal: Our goal was to increase access to sanitary products on campus and provide all students who menstruate with security, dignity, and agency in caring for their reproductive health. It was brought to our attention through a Project Community the disparities communities face. Many students do not have the resources to afford these expensive items or they are of an identity that makes it uncomfortable to purchase them in the store. For these individuals there is currently no option being offered for assistance. Through our campaign we hoped to raise awareness about this major issue and break down the stigma that surrounds menstruation. We hoped to set the foundation for a self-sustaining tampon/pad receptacles located throughout women’s and gender inclusive bathrooms on campus in the form of “Take a Tampon, Leave a Tampon” boxes. This project also provided a toolkit for Planned Parenthood to give to other student groups across the state of Michigan to use at their respective schools as part of the Community Action Project of the students in Sociology 225 Section 304.

Methods of Implementation: This small grant allowed us to purchase sanitary products to make available in respective bathrooms in Lane Hall. We put baskets (See Figure 1.0) with which included different flow pads and tampons as well as pantiliners, in both the women’s bathroom and the gender inclusive bathrooms located on the first floor of Lane Hall. We had the hygiene baskets available for the remainder of the Winter semester of 2017 while monitoring the supply on a daily basis.

Expenses: We utilized $75.03 of our award to purchase sanitary products and a receipt was submitted to the Barger Leadership Institute to be reimbursed on March 24, 2016.

Results: The results were expected and unexpected. The expected being that our tabling and access of sanitary products raised awareness for this reproductive justice issue. The unexpected result was a lack of use of the products provided, which may be due to multiple variables. We were only granted access to place the products in two bathrooms in Lane Hall and we only had a two week time period to see the results of implementation. The BLI grant provided us with the opportunity to purchase sanitary products in bulk, so the unexpected left over products were then donated to Safe House in Ann Arbor as stated in our grant proposal.

Evaluation: All of the goals that were set were successfully met. We received this grant from the Barger Leadership Institute and created a toolkit for other organizations to start this project at their school.  We were able to increase access to sanitary products to people at the University of Michigan through our “Take a Tampon, Leave a Tampon” initiative in Lane Hall. At our tabling we were able to raise awareness for this reproductive justice issue. This toolkit included a timeline, a flyer for a pad and tampon drive, an improvement list, and a brief summary of our thought process and execution. We believe this toolkit is very explicit and any student organization could implement this program at their school. Aside from the concrete goals of raising awareness and access to hygiene products, we were able to achieve a goal of a successful team initiative.

Broader Implications: This BLI Small Grant was intended to stimulate learning about leadership through practice, encourage and support student initiative, and seed innovative projects that will contribute to the Institute, campus community, and/or society, and it did just that. This pilot program increased access to sanitary products and awareness about the impact menstruation has on a young student’s college career, which has yet to be done on the University of Michigan’s campus. Now that toolkit has been created and passed along to other organizations students and faculty, others will be able to address and promote awareness around a reproductive justice issue that is often be overlooked. This initiative could not have been as successful as it was without the Barger Leadership Institute,  Thank you very much.

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