The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Club begins work to expand access to free menstrual products in restrooms

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Bathrooms across campus advertise certain restrooms that feature free menstrual products as not all do. Sarah Sklar | The Weekly Ringer


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The UMW Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Club is heading a student-led effort to bring more free period products to campus. On Wednesday, Jan. 25, they shared a survey on their Instagram, @umwwgstclub, asking for feedback from UMW students about where menstrual products are needed on campus.

“The data has shown that menstrual products would be beneficial in both women’s and gender-neutral restrooms across campus,” said Emma Dabolt, a senior women’s, gender and sexuality studies major and club secretary.

As of Tuesday, Jan. 31, 37 people have responded to the survey. According to that data, a majority of respondents believe menstrual products would be beneficial in women’s and gender-neutral restrooms on campus. Respondents indicated that the products would be useful in popular places such as the Cedric Rucker University Center, the Hurley Convergence Center and Simpson Library. Menstrual products may also be beneficial in the restrooms of campus dining locations, according to the survey.

The club will be partnering with the Student Government Association and the Gwen Hale Resource Center for this endeavor. 

In 2020 Virginia lawmakers passed a law requiring public schools to provide free pads and tampons in student bathrooms, but that does not extend to higher education universities,” said Molly Potock, senior women’s, gender and sexuality studies major and club vice president. “Toilet paper, paper towels, and soap are all consistently provided in bathrooms, why shouldn’t pads and tampons?”

The idea came to the group in a meeting last semester.

“We all felt that while there were menstrual products provided on campus, they were in inconvenient places, and you could never be sure the boxes would be full,” said senior English and women’s, gender and sexuality studies double major and club president Lucy Clark. “When you’re in a situation where you are seeking out a tampon or pad in a public restroom, you don’t want to have to hike to a different bathroom you never even knew existed and find an empty box.”

The effort to provide free menstrual products on campus began about six years ago. In 2017, the UMW Student Government Association launched the Tampon Program to provide free menstrual products in various locations across campus.

In 2018, then-senior and Inter Club Association President Kate Barry wrote a letter to the Board of Visitors. “The SGA executive cabinet has voted to continue the free tampon and pad program in bathrooms throughout campus,” she said in the letter. “We have plans to request funding from the Finance Committee this week to buy products for the next academic year. For the past year, I have been the sole ‘re-stocker’ and general point person for the project, though we have plans to discuss the expansion of the project as well as determine a different strategy for restocking.”

By supporting students with free and accessible period products, the club hopes to improve students’ educational experience and help alleviate the financial burden and stress of finding period products.

“Anyone that’s found themselves needing a menstrual product with none in sight knows the stress it adds to your day,” said Potock. “We want to alleviate that stress so students can instead focus on learning. This small detail can make a world of difference in students’ quality education and attendance rates. No one should have to miss a class because they don’t have access to medical necessities like menstrual products.” 

Students can access and complete the bathroom location popularity survey by following the link in the club’s Instagram bio or by sending them an email at

The Women’s, Gender and Sexuality club will be holding a donation drive running from March 6 to March 17. The club is also holding a bake sale on March 8, where students can exchange period products for or purchase desserts, with the profits going towards buying period products.