Last spring, Regan Moss, junior in microbiology and neuroscience, began a petition in hopes to spread awareness and start a change to make period products more accessible.
As the president of Auburn’s chapter of PERIOD: The Menstrual Movement, she said over the past year their organization has focused on meeting immediate needs with menstrual product donation drives. However, with the petition, they wanted to focus on something more long-term.
“If people don’t have access to adequate products they have to substitute with socks or they substitute with newspaper or they substitute with trash bags,” she said. “There [are] so many ways in which people try to meet a need that is innate and biological …”
Early last summer she started talking with Student Government Association to work alongside them throughout the petition process.
Moss said for now she hopes the petition gives awareness around the issue of period poverty.
“We define period poverty as the inequitable access to period products but also knowing about menstrual health and sexual health and reproductive health,” she said. “So, it extends beyond just having access to adequate menstrual hygiene support …”
The petition focuses on two issues of alleviating poverty and female health. During this process, Moss said they have had a lot of open conversations to reshape how people understand poverty alleviation programs and menstrual needs.
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“I think any sociopolitical movement takes a long time because before we can get any policy changes to take place you have to change the culture surrounding the ideas,” she said.
Brooke Vinzinski, sophomore in economics, is one of the 465 people who have put their signatures on the petition.
“I signed the petition because I believe every member of Auburn’s campus deserves accessible period products, no matter their financial situation,” she said.
Moss said they hope to surpass their goal of 500 signatures because the more they have the more likely administration will take notice.
Riley Locke, junior in software engineering, is a senator in SGA who has been assisting Moss throughout the petition process.
Locke said for a while he followed PERIOD as a student on social media, and in February, with the new SGA term, he began working with Moss as a senate member.
The petition is helpful in getting other members of SGA’s attention as well as administration, he said. Locke said the next major step is setting up surveys and organizing feedback forms to quantify the need.
“Right now, I am really pushing to get more research done through PERIOD and using the research and assessment branch of SGA to do formal benchmarking,” he said.
Locke said this research step will help them get a better idea of what work needs to be done and, ultimately, allows them to present a stronger argument to the University when that time comes.
Locke said they hope to start doing some test roll-outs next fall and start putting surveys up in the restrooms.
“The end goal will always be the same and that’s getting free [menstrual hygiene] products to Auburn’s campus," he said. "Even if that doesn’t happen in the next coming semesters, we hopefully will at least be laying the groundwork for more teams that go out there to continue advocating and doing the work [to get] those products to students.”
Looking beyond the University, Moss said she hopes they are able to carve out a successful path on how to provide free menstrual products so other school systems and state-funded institutions can do the same.
“Toilet paper is free in public restrooms that meet a basic biological need and menstrual products do the same,” Moss said.
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