Within the next few weeks, the Undergraduate Assembly will launch a pilot program to distribute thousands of free menstrual products in buildings across Penn's campus. The move comes after students criticized the lack of accessible tampons and pads on campus, particularly in comparison to peer institutions that promoted initiatives that offered free menstrual products.
The UA will place 2,500 tampons and 2,400 pads in restrooms in popular locations, such as Huntsman Hall and Van Pelt Library, College and Wharton sophomore Nikhil Gupta said. Gupta, who is the UA communications director has led the project since fall 2018.
Gupta said he secured funding for the menstrual products after meeting with Student Health Service and administrators in the office of the Vice Provost for University Life. He also worked closely with several student organizations, including the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, the Penn Association for Gender Equity, and the Penn Period Project.
Funding for the menstrual products was split evenly between GAPSA and VPUL, Gupta said.
The baskets containing the pads and tampons will be refilled twice a week with the UA, PAGE, and PPP rotating the restocking responsibility, he said. The baskets will also have a graphic with a feedback form for students to share their thoughts on the project or to express interest in volunteering to help.
Gupta declined to provide more specifics about the timing of the project.
After collecting data from the pilot project, Gupta said he hopes to have enough positive feedback to encourage Penn's administration to take on the responsibility of restocking the tampon and pad baskets themselves.
"Just as toilet paper is stocked in the bathrooms, hopefully we would be able to get menstrual products in the bathroom as well," Gupta said.
The UA also increased the number of tampon disposal containers on campus last year. The project was spearheaded by College junior Armaun Rouhi, who was a UA associate member at the time. As of January, Rouhi said women’s restrooms in 1920 Commons, Houston Hall, Fisher Fine Arts Library, and the ARCH building all have tampon disposal containers.
Rouhi also said in January that his goal was to implement these containers in all women’s restrooms on campus by the end of the fall semester. But since Rouhi's resignation as a UA associate member in September, the future of the project remains uncertain.
Rouhi did not respond to a request for comment on the future of the project. UA President and College senior Natasha Menon said she does not believe any current UA members have picked up Rouhi’s project and continued its work.
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