Four students are using their Contemporary Global Studies group project as an opportunity to advocate for a global issue with a presence on App State’s campus: accessible and affordable menstrual products.
Freshman global studies major Annie Manges, sophomore psychology major Virginia Wood, freshman political science major Mikaela Torres and junior global studies major Samantha Cobo-Rodriguez were assigned to choose a global issue and advocate for it on the local level through contacting an authority figure or publicizing a charity.
The project idea was inspired after the class read “A Path Appears” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. One of the main global issues in the book was the lack of menstrual products available to people in Mozambique, South Africa.
“We picked women’s empowerment and accessibility to feminine hygiene products, which is a big problem worldwide,” Manges said. “We were pretty surprised at how relevant that was on campus as well.”
After searching the App State women’s health services page, Manges said her group grew more passionate about the lack of acknowledgment for available menstrual products.
The group emailed Chancellor Sheri Everts on Nov. 27 to advocate for an increase in available menstrual products on campus.
“When looking at the Health Services website, we were somewhat surprised to find immediate tabs and resources for things such as contraceptives and STD testing, yet nothing addressing menstrual issues,” the email said.
Wood said the group also submitted a suggestion to the health services suggestion box and are waiting to hear back from them.
Vice chancellor of students affairs J.J. Brown replied to the group email on Friday, thanking the group for their concern, and copied Dean of Students Jonathon Hyde and Director of Wellness and Prevention Alex Howard to the email.
“I have asked them both if they would meet with you and the other students you reference to talk about how we can support increasing free feminine products for students,” Brown wrote in the email.
Wood said they will meet with Hyde and Howard before winter break to discuss the issue.
“We hope that, in this meeting, we will be able to come up with a plan of action,” Wood said in an email.
Brown acknowledged in his email that App State’s Student Government Association, Women’s Center, Health Services and the student union have worked to support available menstrual products over the years, but he is open to discussing an increase in the supply.
On AppSync, the Women’s Center advertises its free menstrual products, free condoms and their office as a safe space for breast pumping.
Senior criminal justice major Angela Eccles is a Women’s Center volunteer.
“In our center, we always have menstrual products available to students for free any time we’re open,” Eccles said. “Currently, our SGA representative is working on a bill to have them placed in unisex bathrooms, as well.”
Eccles said menstrual products were not available in women’s bathrooms in the student union until the end of spring.
Currently, menstrual products are only available in student union bathrooms.
“Improving the quality of the products are important, and personally I would to see them available in bathrooms campus-wide, not just the student union,” Eccles said.
Annie Manges hopes that the meeting will result in more acknowledgment and resources for menstrual products on the health services website and lower prices on them in campus marketplaces.
Story by Christina Beals