PERIOD.UNCA educates students on menstrual stigma

Photo by Jensen Stephenson
Members of PERIOD.UNCA’s executive board met to discuss plans for giving out 2,500 pads donated by Project Dignity.

Shelly Garzon
News Writer 
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PERIOD.UNCA plans to place menstrual products in all restrooms on campus, including men and gender neutral.
“There are machines in all the bathrooms on campus, but they’re either empty or cost you the convenience of having a quarter,” said Mayden McDaniel, co-president of PERIOD.UNCA. “Our student fees pay for things like toilet paper and paper towels but not for pads and tampons. Why do I need to pay for this item and why is it considered a luxury?”
PERIOD.UNCA is a chapter of a larger organization called PERIOD. the Menstrual Movement, whose goal is to end period poverty and stigmas through service education and advocacy.
“It’s refreshing to have somewhere you can go to talk about these things,” senior Elizabeth Berkeley said.
Students said the organization has helped educate the campus on the menstrual stigma.
“People tend to think that women are the only ones who have their periods and that’s not the case,” Berkeley said. “I think the organization has been great with education and really getting the word out there about these different things that people may not want to talk about.”
According to McDaniel, the organization is working toward making these products more accessible everywhere on campus, not just in the bathrooms.
“We partnered with Project Dignity and they donated 2,500 pads to us, so we’re in the process of trying to figure out how to distribute those to students on campus in the best and most effective way,” McDaniel said.
She said this semester the members of the organization packaged up the pads with chocolates and placed them in bags to distribute while they tabled in the student union on campus.
“Even when we do that we just have the hardest time getting people to take them so we met as an executive board and we were trying to brainstorm ways to get people to take them,” McDaniel said.
The organization hopes to coordinate with the Health and Counseling Center on campus in order for students to anonymously request pads and tampons, McDaniel said.
“It should be a thing we can speak about openly and do things surrounding it openly,” Berkeley said. “But unfortunately because it’s such a gross topic to some people, especially to people who don’t have periods, it’s almost like you just don’t want to be looked at and judged.”
According to McDaniel, the only source of funding the organization has is from a GoFundMe they shared on Facebook.
“We explained who we were, what we were doing and what we were trying to accomplish and we raised the money mostly through family and friends,” she said.
McDaniel said PERIOD.UNCA is in the process of applying for an ASG grant from the University of North Carolina Association of Student Government program that helps fund student organizations across the UNC school system.
“With this grant we can get a pilot program on campus,” McDaniel said. “With the pilot program we would have menstrual products in all the bathrooms womens, mens and gender neutral in Highsmith, Brown, Ramsey, just the most popular buildings on campus.”
From the pilot program, the organization would need to collect research and statistics on the actual use of these products in the bathrooms. The evidence from this data would be useful in applying for grants to continue the funding for these products, she sai
According to members of the organization, they don’t anticipate any negative reactions from students due to the very liberal culture on campus.
“For our campus and our diverse population we need to make sure that we’re being clear that this is for everybody,” junior Meagan McGlyn said. “This is not a taboo subject and I think the people on this campus will recognize that and be OK with it.”
McDaniel said the organization also did surveys around campus to get feedback from the student body about placing the menstrual products all around campus.
“We got pretty positive responses,” she said. “I definitely think it’s something that the students want and would support, it’s just the matter of funding.”
Horace Vanderbilt, a senior at
UNCA,said he thinks it’s a great idea and is surprised it hasn’t happened already.
“I think it’s really important to have them available for everybody,” he said. “Either just out at a front desk or in both bathrooms or all bathrooms.”
According to McDaniel, if the organization would be granted the funds they would receive them by March of this year.
“I can’t say with certainty, but I would like to imagine it would take maybe a couple months to get it done and hopefully it would be completed in the summer so that when students come back in the fall these things would be ready to go,” she said.
The organization hopes this will push to end the menstrual stigma.
“This is meant to make people feel more comfortable,” McGlyn said. “This is all part of doing the better part and making the world a better place.”