This piece was contributed by UR Student Jessica Dugan
The University of Richmond’s Planned Parenthood’s Generation Action (PPGA) chapter has been working to implement an initiative to supply free menstrual products across university bathrooms.
Planned Parenthood Generation Action is a network of young activists across campuses throughout the nation with the mission of mobilizing advocates for reproductive justice, raising awareness about reproductive rights, and creating change in their communities.
After fundraising an initial $300 to buy supplies, members of the University of Richmond chapter distributed fully stocked baskets of tampons to 10 bathrooms across campus. The long-term goal is to turn this initiative into a sustainable service provided by the school, as opposed to something that the chapter members maintain, Claire Tate, sophomore and president of UR’s chapter said.
“It’s almost like a no-brainer if you think about it,” said Tate. “This affects half the population and people need these products. Yes, it’s a financial issue but more than that, it’s about convenience.”
Another chapter member, Tracy Naschek, said the feedback from the University of Richmond community has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Making this idea a part of our speech and making people comfortable talking about the subject makes it easier to defend,” said Naschek.
Sophomore Brooke Sommers will be taking over as president of the chapter next year and said she hoped to continue to bring political and social awareness to the student body through Richmond’s Generation Action chapter.
The University administration has been receptive to the tampon initiative and willing to help with the organization’s needs, Sommers said. Members of the chapter recently met with the administration to discuss the campaign’s legitimacy as well as the chapter’s plans of maintaining it in the short run.
“We’re not trying to supply everyone with their monthly supply,” said Sommers. “It’s a public health necessity that affects about half the campus and the entire menstruating population.”
The chapter has teamed up with Westhampton College Government Association (WCGA) to gather feedback about the initiative and to plan for a more organized and sustainable way to continue the program next year. Tate said the chapter will collect data throughout the next year to present the university with an estimate of the actual costs associated with continuing the program.
However, at the end of this semester, the chapter will be requesting contingency funding from the school to immediately continue the program at the start of the next academic year.
“This was a seedling of an idea that bloomed into a service that we’re providing now,” said Tate. “It feels good to do tangible work and be providing something for the community in that way.”