Original Opinion Column Written By: Meredith Perkins | The Miami Student Columnist
In Miami University’s College of Arts and Science buildings, an academic division in which 65.8% of students are women, the closest thing you’ll find to a period product is a clunky, empty coin-operated dispenser from the 1960s.
Students can walk into Bachelor Hall, Harrison Hall, Upham Hall and Irvin Hall, and all you will see are abandoned and rusting dispensers in each bathroom, “standing as nothing more than landmarks of a Miami University from 50 years ago.”
When nearly 2/3 of the students in these academic buildings have periods, why is there a lack of period products in Miami’s older buildings — especially when there are other buildings on campus that demonstrate better models?
Where Can Miami University Students Find Aunt Flow?
Miami University students can find Aunt Flow in multiple bathrooms at the Armstrong Student Center, all of which are regularly stocked with organic cotton tampons and pads.
Students can also find Aunt Flow in McGuffey Hall, an academic building part of the College of Education, Health, and Society, where nearly 70% of students are women. The period products sit in a display box on the bathroom counter.
The initiative to bring Aunt Flow to campus began back in 2020 with the Periods Rock! project, a student organization that aimed to advocate for menstrual hygiene and reproductive health awareness.
“As someone who has been in the highly stressful situation of starting a period without a period product on hand — an experience 86% of people who menstruate have had — it was a relief to know I could walk to Armstrong to find a free period product.”
The Need for Increased Accessibility on Campus
Many departments and buildings at Miami University have done a great job providing free period products, but many more have limited access.
“At a university that is majority female, we can’t fall to the standard of requiring students to walk across campus to get the products they need. Providing period products in all public restrooms is a low-cost solution that universally benefits the student body.”
Toilet paper and soap are offered for free in bathrooms, so why not pads and tampons?
“It is proven that one in five menstruating students have missed school because they did not have the period supplies or resources they needed. With recent economic inflation making period products even more expensive for students, the university could significantly improve the lives of students by updating its period dispensal system — or even adding period supplies in all vending machines like residence halls do — in its academic buildings.”
It’s Time for Change
Colleges like the University of Cincinnati, Princeton University, Kansas State University and Agnes Scott College have successfully implemented campus-wide period product programs in its women’s and gender-neutral bathrooms.
“Improvements to our period supply dispensal system are past-due. It is time to ditch the rusty period dispensers of generations past and move toward a future with universal period product access.”