Senate Passes Resolution to Stock Bathrooms with Free Menstruation Products

Tessa Busby '24, Staff Writer

In the final weeks of the fall 2020 semester, Student Senate passed a resolution to allocate $3,000 for a pilot program to stock bathrooms on campus with free menstruation products, including tampons and pads.

This bill was initially proposed during the previous academic year but was unable to be drafted before COVID-19 forced Dickinson to move to remote learning. Olsen-Johnson and John Dylan Bustillo ’22 brought the bill forward again for this academic year. 

This idea was first proposed last year when me and former President Kevin Ssonko were going over research that previous senate committees had compiled based upon what peer institutions were doing. Unfortunately, we were unable to draft a proposal in time before Covid-19 closed the school early. JD [Bustillo] and I brought this forward this last semester along with a slurry of other important proposals such as our wage increase bill because we felt it was the perfect time to do so,” said Olsen-Johnson.

The program specified restrooms around campus to ascertain the community’s interest. If there is sufficient interest then the program could be permanently expanded into all women’s, men’s, and gender-neutral restrooms. The senate would like to see a consistent use of the products at 20-40% usage rate per month for the funding to continue. 

The dispensers, which are by the brand Aunt Flow, will be installed in the first-floor restroom of the Waidner Spahr library, a women’s bathroom in Adams dormitory, a women’s bathroom in Malcolm dormitory, and one of the Kline fitness center restrooms. Each of these dispensers and disposals have a combined cost of $300. As a result, receptive feedback is necessary in order to continue the program. 

We must collect data to prove there is usage of the products for the senate to consider funding it again in later years,” said Jackson Olsen-Johnson ’22.

Although the spending was unanimously approved, the program is in its early stages because the space planning committee has yet to approve the installation and it is still unknown if and when the plan will be approved. The senate plans on voting at the end of the spring semester of 2021 on  whether to continue the program in the long term.

This initiative is an exciting prospect for Dickinsonians who stand by the school’s mission to be inclusive and offer equal support to its students. “Inclusivity is an extremely emphasized quality at Dickinson. What better way to act on this inclusivity than to incorporate and make available free period products in restrooms. 

For the pilot program to be considered successful, Ohlsen-Johnson said that the products would need to be used consistently and on a monthly rotation, with about 20-40% usage rate of the available stock per month. “We must collect data to prove there is usage of the products for the senate to consider funding it again in later years,” said Ohlsen-Johnson.

“Menstruation is stressful enough as it is,” says Katie Chapis ’24. If fully implemented, the program offers a level of comfort and security that individuals find in other facets of Dickinson’s wellness plan.

“Currently the trial does include multiple gender inclusive restrooms with the installation in the library quiet section and in the Kline Fitness center. Our goal for full implementation is to have units in all female restrooms and gender inclusive restrooms,” said Olsen-Johnson. 

“Unfortunately, while the spending for the project was approved by unanimous consent in the Senate back in November, the space planning committee for the college hasn’t approved it at this time and nor do we know when or if they will,” he added.