The Journal of Global Health has reported that 500 million people worldwide lack access to menstrual products and hygiene facilities, 14% of which being college students.
Inspired by period poverty across the country and economic inflation, a group of Shippensburg University students created a menstrual product drive that would run from Oct. 23 to Nov. 23 for their senior seminar course.
Hannah Cornell, a member of the group, spoke about the motivation behind the drive: “We wanted to work toward being able to provide menstrual products for students on campus, so that if a student needed items because they couldn’t afford them, or if a student had an emergency during the school day, they could simply go to a nearby bathroom to get what they need. We don’t ask students to supply their own toilet paper, so why would we ask them to bring menstrual products?” Cornell said.
While menstrual product drives have been done on campus previously, the students wanted to find a new way to encourage more donations. Together with the Shippensburg University Police Department (SUPD) and the Pride and Gender Equity (PAGE) Center, they set up a program in which Shippensburg University students could pay their parking ticket with menstrual products.
Allyson Ritchey, who brainstormed the idea, said she was inspired by a similar program at Elizabethtown College. “Their student government did a food drive with their campus police, and I thought it was a genius idea. This ‘food for fines’ thing has also been repeated in cities and libraries across the country, but never, to my knowledge, specifically for a menstrual product drive,” she said.
When the menstrual drive began, Shippensburg students took to YikYak, an anonymous social media platform, to post about the program. Much of the feedback was positive, with many peers sharing their excitement and others happy to save a bit of money on a parking ticket.
On Nov. 27, the group finished counting the donations from the month-long drive. They ended with 66 boxes of menstrual products, which equals roughly 800 items total.
Sahara McGrath, PAGE Center Coordinator, was thankful to be able to work with the team to grow the stock of menstrual products that they have. “Eight hundred products is a big deal. These donations greatly further our mission so we can help as many students as possible,” she said.
Menstrual supplies can be found for free at the PAGE Center and Big Red’s Cupboard, and the products donated in the drive will be used to stock bathrooms across campus.
Moving forward, the group of seniors will continue to fight period poverty on campus by promoting a donation-based bingo board on social media and placing an open donation bin in the library for anyone who wants to help the cause.