Education Human Rights Politics

The Period Project expands to provide better access to menstrual care

Photo by Marianne Dodson
Written by Marilyn Icsman

The Period Project had its first meeting of the semester Tuesday to discuss goals for the upcoming months, which include increased accessibility to products in university buildings. 

Maddie Sloat, a sophomore studying communication in the Honors Tutorial College, founded the club last semester. The Period Project is a service and activist organization that works to raise awareness about the issues and stigma surrounding menstruation. Members advocate for the elimination of the “luxury tax” on feminine hygiene products and highlight the inability of many women to pay for the products.

“Athens county is an impoverished area, but at Ohio University we live in a bubble and don’t realize the poverty around us,” Sloat said. “I realized that menstrual products are not being donated to homeless shelters or women’s shelters.”

Last year the group started several successful campaigns. Members raised $1,600 on GoFundMe to donate to shelters and schools in the area and started the “take a tampon, leave a tampon” movement to highlight the importance of making menstrual products accessible in university buildings. The “take a tampon, leave a tampon” boxes encouraged women to take what they needed and donate any extra products they had.

Two additional chapters of The Period Project have already formed since its establishment last year. Austintown Fitch High school in Austintown, Ohio, opened a chapter this year and also adopted the “take a tampon, leave a tampon” program. Ashland University is in the process of starting the second official college chapter of the Period Project.

This year, the organization is looking forward to making more progress on the OU campus and in the Athens community.

“What’s most important to me is that we are making active change,” Sloat said. “Last semester we were still getting on our feet, but now we can start proving ourselves as an organization that is making a difference.”

The Period Project is currently focusing on obtaining funds from Student Senate to add tampon dispensers the main buildings on campus, at the very least. The group also wants to advocate in Student Senate for a wider variety of menstrual products to be available at the Ohio University markets.

Parker Smith, the club’s director of legislative affairs, said he plans to use his spot on the Governmental Affairs Commission in Senate to lobby for funds to put toward campus accessibility.

“It’s something that the university should probably at least assist in providing or have available,” Smith said.

He also said he plans for members to travel to the Ohio State House and defend a bill that would eliminate the luxury tax.

Meanwhile, the organization is working toward coordinating events that will help educate and involve students. Members discussed setting up panels and featuring speakers who will highlight the importance of menstrual health and how cultural attitudes toward menstruation affect women across the world.

They also hope to host a formal dance during spring semester, where the price of admission will be donations of pads or tampons that will then be distributed in the community.

“We are constantly coming up with new campaign ideas to open up the conversation about periods, and we want to open up the conversation to people of all viewpoints and genders,” Sloat said.

One main goal of The Period Project is to engage as many people as possible.

“We are going to discuss all kinds of ideas and try to challenge everyone,” Sloat said during the meeting. “We are working hard to open up to different genders and the LGBT community, especially discussing trans people who also menstruate.”

One new member of the club, sophomore Allie Dalton, said she joined because she thinks the issue is important for everyone to consider.

“It’s a big deal to be open about the issues that people who menstruate face, especially from a socioeconomic standpoint,” Dalton said.

The Period Project meets every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Women’s Center.

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Marilyn Icsman

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