Menstrual justice has become popular in recent years and several universities across the country have set out to make menstrual products free and accessible to their students.
Heavily inspired by PERIODand when University of Portland Senator (ASUP) Freshman Associated Students (ASUP) freshman students during the 2019-20 academic school year, along with the then-ASUP Senate, saw similar movements spread to other college campuses, attempted to induce menstruation Products easily accessible to UP students.
Today, students can find baskets of free menstrual products and an information sheet in gender-neutral restrooms in 11 buildings around campus. But ASUP – which funded the program itself – is pushing for these products to be funded through the university, and they’re using QR codes to support their case.
The QR codes located on the factsheets lead to a feedback form used to collect student input for submission to administration to highlight the importance of the Pilots Matter Period (PMP) initiative to explain to the campus. All academic buildings, the Beauchamp Center, dining halls, and the Clark Library have these baskets ready for trial, with the long-term goal of having them available in every bathroom on campus.
“Ultimately, we want to put products in all bathrooms because even if someone identifies as male, they could still be menstruating,” said Lizzie Wisely, second-year senator and PMP co-chair. “We want to make sure they have those resources.”
Currently, three types of menstrual products are sold in the university bookstore: regular absorbency tampons, high absorbency tampons, and ultra-thin pads.
Jones’ dissatisfaction that the only place on campus that sells menstrual products was the college bookstore prompted the formation of PMP.
With a limited selection of menstrual products available for purchase, PMP’s purpose is to “empower menstruators and value their health as something that needs to be addressed,” as stated in the original resolution.
The flow of periods can vary in strengthand a limited range of products are not aimed at the students who need them.
PMP, a pre-pandemic project, was abruptly put on hold when students were sent home in March 2020. However, with the majority of students back on campus for the 2021-2022 academic year, Jones, with significant help from Wisely, has taken advantage of the situation to start a PMP dry run.
“I aim to have products on-site before face-to-face classes begin,” Wisely said. “I was really excited to get involved with PMP one way or the other and was just extremely fortunate to be named Co-Chair. Since then, I’ve worked really hard to get this initiative off the ground.”
Funded entirely by ASUP, $750 was withdrawn from the Sexual Health and Wellness Fund to purchase the baskets filled with menstrual products and sign holders. A resolution is proposed to withdraw $1,000 from the Health Discretionary Fund to work towards the stockpile replenishment being carried out by a group of ASUP members.
But ASUP’s goal going forward, according to Jones, is to fund PMP from Student Affairs and replenish from Physical Plant.
“We’re initially using this as a pilot program to see how things are going,” Jones said. “Once we have enough data we will meet with the administration and make our case as to why they should be doing this and funding it on an ongoing basis.”
Wisely, Jones and everyone associated with PMP would like to emphasize that female students who are equally passionate about menstrual justice and free menstrual products should fill out the feedback form so that PMP can continue to be funded and become more permanent.
“Period poverty is a big thing in America,” Wisely said. “By taking a small step, college students who already have so many worries about tuition and expenses don’t have to worry about spending hundreds of dollars on products every year just because they don’t control something be able. ”
Anyone interested in participating in the PMP initiative can reach out to Wisely or Jones via email or ASUP messages on Instagram (@asup_news).
Janea Melido is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at [email protected].