Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Free menstrual products available on Wichita State main campus

Jennifer Anima
Alice Fitzgerald and Delaney Jones pose next to the first installment of the Aunt Flow Dispenser located in Ahlberg Hall on the third floor.

Free menstrual products will be available for students starting this school year, eight months after the Student Government Association passed a bill providing funding for the initiative. 

The Menstrual Product Project is starting off with 14 locations around campus, which will have free menstrual product dispensers set up by the end of the year. Products will also be available in men’s and unisex bathrooms throughout campus for transgender and gender-nonconforming students. 

The Menstrual Product Project started in September 2022, with several executive cabinet members partnering with Delaney Jones, former president of Intersectional Feminists On Campus Uniting Students (FOCUS). 

This movement stemmed from project members noticing the student body’s rise in general needs. 

Alice Fitzgerald, former sustainability director, explained that from 2021 to 2022, students accessing the Shocker Support Locker increased drastically. The locker offers free food, clothing, toiletries and family products to students, faculty, and staff. 

“A lot of students are struggling, and we saw the Menstrual Product Project as an opportunity to help out with some of that,” Fitzgerald said. “Basically, the goal by the end of the project is to pretty much have a free menstrual product dispenser in hopefully every bathroom that students normally access on campus.”

The group also mentioned many students reported having missed classes and extracurriculars because of the lack of these products.

“If you’re paying already, you know, thousands to go to college, it’s unfair that you’d have to miss classes that you paid for because you don’t have the products,” Jones said. 

Project members also noticed free menstrual products being offered at other school campuses like Washburn University, which offered the group “tips” on how to bring it to Wichita State’s campus. 

The dispensers and products come from Aunt Flow, a menstrual product company that works with businesses, schools and organizations to offer free product dispensers. The company was selected for its organic non-toxic products, experience with similar projects and reasonable pricing. 

Fitzgerald explained the importance of free dispensers and for those in need to be able to grab menstrual products without asking someone, which could lead to an uncomfortable situation for some. 

“We are a cash-free campus,” Jones said. “So the chance of me carrying around a bag of quarters is slim to none.”

When the menstrual product dispensers run low, students can fill out a form by going to the WSU website or scanning a QR code that will be available on each dispenser. 

Although the bill passed with a vote of 36-5 in September, one concern was how to approach this project with people not as comfortable talking about menstrual products. 

“A lot of people don’t understand how badly it’s needed, especially if they’ve never been in that situation,” Jones said.

“At the end of the day, the Student Government and FOCUS is there to serve all students, whether or not they fit what your understanding of femininity or being a woman is,” Fitzgerald said, adding to Jones’ point.

The menstrual products will be ordered in bulk each school year, and as the trial year starts, the group will monitor if the number of ordered items needs to be increased. If products run out, FOCUS will be on standby to help provide items donated by outside organizations.

The focus of the Menstrual Product Project as of now is solely on Wichita State’s main campus, but the groups hope to reach other WSU campuses in the future. 

For students with similar hopes for a project, Jones says to find organizations and peers with the same ideas and not be afraid of getting told “no.” 

“Don’t be afraid to talk to Student Government because your student government works for you,” Jones said.

For more information on the Menstrual Product Project, click here

View Comments (4)
About the Contributor
Jennifer Anima
Jennifer Anima, Reporter
Jennifer Anima is a first-year reporter for The Sunflower. Before joining staff, she served as editor-in-chief at the Butler Lantern, the student newspaper for Butler Community College. Anima uses she/her pronouns.

Comments (4)

All The Sunflower Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • A

    Adam SandlerAug 11, 2023 at 1:23 pm

    It’s sad that this is considered progress. There are multiple dispensers already located around the WSU campus with products in them. A better and more sustainable option would have been to continue filling these existing machines, kept the same supplier of products and just disabled the ability to collect money on the machines, so that the products could be accessed for free. This has been done in a couple of the RSC bathrooms, but needs to be campus wide.

  • A

    Anne MarieAug 11, 2023 at 1:01 pm

    I’m happy to see this! It’s been in the works for years and is something we’ve needed for a long time. Senate vote of 36-5 shows how much this is wanted.

  • R

    Ricky BobbyAug 10, 2023 at 9:58 pm

    It’s not free. The funding for this comes from student fees and it’s cost is $15,000 per year. There was no impact study or analysis done to demonstrate the expenditure to have the convenience of menstrual products in every bathroom, as opposed to a singular centralized place.

    Student government pass this without the wider considerations of online and distance-learning students, since they have to pay these fees too, and they weren’t included in the discussion at all.

    • C

      CamiApr 4, 2024 at 11:40 pm

      For the sake of clarity it is not $15,000 a year. $15,000 is the pilot program cost or the analysis (as you say). It was smarter to distribute the products across campus. The task force initially explained that convenience is essential to tackling the problem of menstrual poverty. The group stated that they sought feedback from students of all different backgrounds, and student representatives are responsible for considering all students in their decisions. That means distance learning students were considered. As I am sure you know, $15,000, the initial pilot cost, is a small drop in the massive sum of all student fees.