After spring break, students returned to campus to a noticeable new feature in the bathrooms of several buildings on campus: permanent free period product dispensers. These installations, which hold free tampons and pads courtesy of the company Aunt Flow, are the result of efforts by Sarah Ganz ’23, president of the Kenyon chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA). Soon, 140 period product dispensers will be a permanent fixture of the women’s and gender neutral bathrooms in all academic and residential buildings, as well as Peirce Dining Hall, Gund Commons and the Lowry Center.
When Ganz joined PPGA in the fall of 2019, the push to stock bathrooms with menstrual products had just begun. Initially, the group took matters into their own hands. PPGA applied for funding through the BFC to supply select bathrooms with products and established a period product committee that was responsible for refilling the dispensers when they were low. However, for Ganz, the goal was to have these products treated and restocked the way toilet paper is. “I’m a senior now, and I was just like, if there’s one thing I do before I graduate it’s to get these period products free and permanent,” she said.
The need for these dispensers across campus rose to the attention of the administration when Ganz, as a senior, brought the issue up in passing to Vice President of Student Affairs Celestino Limas. Ganz explained to Limas how the current model for ensuring widespread access to menstrual products was unsustainable and costly. “I saw this particular issue as a need and asked if I could help, as I wanted to be a good servant to [Ganz] and the campus,” Limas said.
Soon after, Limas reached out to Senior Director of Campus Life James Jackson and Interim Director of Facility Operations Larry Blake to research ways to implement permanent period product fixtures and finally make Ganz’s and PPGA’s dream a reality. Thanks to the tireless collaboration of these parties, PPGA has been relieved of paying for and refilling the dispensers, as the College and the Maintenance Department are now responsible for their upkeep. “[Ganz, Jackson and Blake] are fantastic partners who are immensely invested in the campus experience,” Limas said.
Ganz is grateful to see her vision come to life, which will mitigate the stressful experience of preparing for one’s period and securing products that are often expensive and harder to access for those without a vehicle. Making these products available to all students was a top priority for the group, and all involved during the planning process emphasized the need to install the dispensers in gender neutral, employee and some men’s bathrooms. “I’m very excited that this is something that’s going to be in place forever,” Ganz said.
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Steve Van Holde
Great work, Sarah! You rock!!
Reply to Steve Van Holde