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Student-driven initiative improves access to period products

The menstrual products that used to be at the front of the restroom are now featured in each stall with an improved brand. Mira ‘20 initiated this change, after feeling inspired by seeing this in her sister’s school, with the assistance of Health and Wellness Instructor Nicole Beck and Director of Educational and Counseling Services Dr. Marisa Crandall. These new products are featured in every female bathroom stall, which started on January 13. 

As part of her junior-year project in Health and Wellness, Mira was looking for ways to make Marlborough more aware of the menstrual needs of girls. She got the idea after seeing the products at her sister’s college in each stall.

“There was a clear plastic folder with pads and tampons in the bathroom [stall],” Mira said. “Suddenly I was like, ‘Wait, why don’t we have this at Marlborough?’”

Beck suggested to Mira that she use this idea as part of her Health and Wellness project. Alongside Maggie ‘20, Ellie ‘20 and Bella ‘20, Mira made a plan, which entailed calculating costs, looking at brands and looking at where they would function. Beck took charge of the next steps, wanting to make sure that Mira’s idea was heard beyond the Health and Wellness classroom. 

Beck, who wanted to assist Mira in bringing her project to life, brought the idea to Crandall.

“My role was linking Mira’s proposal to the right people here at Marlborough, but it has been a student run initiative the whole way,” Beck said. 

Crandall said she was excited by the idea.

“I thought that it was a really good idea and Ms. Beck and I had been talking a lot about menstrual freedom and reducing stigma and doing a lot of learning about how do we do that for young women,” Crandall said. 

Crandall recognized that Marlborough, being an all-girls school, should be held accountable for making changes surrounding menstrual health. 

“Half of the population is bleeding about a quarter of the time,” Crandall said. “We’re a girls school, so like 90% of the population at this school could be potentially bleeding at any given moment.”

Crandall said this initiative benefits younger students at Marlborough, who are still trying to figure out how to handle their menstrual cycles. She said she believes offering widely-available menstrual products will minimize embarrassment or anxiety. 

Crandall decided to go forward with the plans, after speaking with Mira about how she wanted the project to carry out. She talked to Director of Facilities and Capital Planning Matt Riddle, who agreed to finance the project. Mira, Crandall, Riddle and Beck had multiple meetings to figure out what brand they were going to use, ultimately deciding on Aunt Flo, which is a company whose mission is to ensure menstrual products are available to everyone. For every ten tampons and pads sold, Aunt Flo donates one. 

Right now, there are menstrual products in the CEI, Seaver and locker hall bathrooms. They are on a trial run. The hope is that they will not be misused and will be respected, and will work to the benefit of students. 

“We are trusting that the students here will be respectful,” Crandall said. “We are hoping that the students here will be happy and feel cared for and feel that this is something to make something can be unpleasant or a drag, less unpleasant and less scary for our younger students.”

Mira looks forward to hearing student feedback. So far the feedback has been positive. 

“This was a very good idea because the products are now more accessible and all the bathrooms have them,” Ella ‘22 said. 

Mira is still looking for ways to improve what she put in place to help expand upon her initiative and incorporate student opinions.

“This isn’t the end of the process,” Mira said. “We found a brand that we’re hoping the student body will like. This isn’t the final iteration. If people have different things that they want to see, we’re going to try and make that happen.” 

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