Ashley Underwood MPH 20’, G Tharp Biostatistics B.S. 19’, Shanaya Shah Heath Management, B.S. 20’
In Collaboration with Aunt Flow, Project Period Members, Student Government Association and Saint Louis University
Through their roles as co-senators to Saint Louis University’s Student Government Association, George Tharp and Shanaya Shah were sent stories from constituents talking about their own struggles to find period products on campus.
After discussing the issue, Project Period was co-founded in the Fall of 2018 to increase menstruation education and period product access.
Project Period’s mission is to guarantee that every student has access to period products in the building bathrooms across the Saint Louis University campus.
“Menstrual health is important to me because people who menstruate deserve a stigma-free life and access to clean, affordable products at all times. It is time to normalize menstruation and get rid of the shame placed on those who menstruate. Menstrual products are also expensive and can be inaccessible at times, so it is important to be sure that everyone has access to the products they need regardless of their financial status or location.”Testimonial from one of Saint Louis University’s current students
SLU junior Shanaya Shah (left) and senior G. Tharp (right) founded Project Period to make tampons and pads readily available to the campus community. Photo by Ellen Hutti
Fast forward to the Spring of 2019, a total of 22 Aunt Flow period product dispensers were installed in eleven of the academic buildings across campus.
First Quarter Learnings
Survey Data Findings
The first cycle of implementation at SLU was from February 20th to March 18th, allowing for the assessment of product usage and overall student interest. Project Period tracked the usage of products and used QR codes to gather student feedback. A total of twenty surveys were received during this specific timeframe, and the survey results concluded that:
- Users of the Aunt Flow products were happy to have easy and worry-free access to pads and tampons.
- When asked if SLY should supply free period products after this semester, all respondents said yes.
- The survey used to alert Project Period members of empty dispensers was quite useful, with 75% of respondents relaying that there was in fact an empty dispenser on campus.
The Benefit of Aunt Flow at Saint Louis University
In 2017, students sent out a survey that garnered over 100 responses and suggestions. 93% of the students who responded indicated that they wanted period products to be widely available on campus, confirming that finding pads and tampons in times of need was a challenge that other students had faced.
In 2019, research was conducted by Anne Sebert Kuhlmann, Ph.D., from the College of Public Health and Social Justice at SLU, to investigate the impact of period poverty on low-income women in the St. Louis community. As her research progressed, Project Period expressed the importance of ensuring the SLU community itself can ensure students, faculty and staff have access to period products and critical menstrual health information while on campus.
Many college campuses around the country, including Princeton University, Bates College, Indiana University, and the University of Georgia, have prioritized menstrual equity by providing free Aunt Flow period products to their students. This is an important opportunity for Saint Louis University to join these colleges and “alleviate ignorance, injustice, and improve the quality of life for all persons” (About Saint Louis University, 2019) regarding period product accessibility.
The first cycle implementation’s long-term goal is to permanently provide free and accessible period products all over campus to SLU students. Project Period members hope is for each facility to take over dispenser restocking and integrate Aunt Flow into their existing maintenance routine on campus.