Photo and Story by Tina Higgins / Contributing Writer
Generation Action is a student organization on MTSU’s campus which focuses on reproductive rights and sexual freedom. Since fall 2018, the organization has been supplying free female products in the majority of female and gender inclusive bathrooms through the movement, “Project Accessibility, Period.” The organization was able to provide menstruation products through a grant provided by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Project Accessibility, Period has been in existence on campus for about a year, and it is still beneficial to students who use these products. Depicted in a research project produced by MTSU alumna Joy Lewis and current Generation Action President Tess Shelton, some students who live on campus don’t have access to transportation. For them, the presence of free, obtainable and necessary menstrual products is crucial to their health. During their research, they found that MTSU doesn’t function as an accessible area to obtain menstrual products.
According to Shelton, although there are areas to purchase period products on campus, the prices of the products are greater than supermarket prices. The selection offered on campus is also slim compared to other stores. According to the organization’s Facebook page, there are only seven locations on campus that students can purchase pads or tampons.
In addition to campus stores, the MTSU Student Food Pantry also offers free feminine hygiene products, but these products are not advertised enough to make them public knowledge.
According to the Facebook group, the group’s mission is to have menstrual products easily obtainable through three methods:
“1. Menstrual products should be made available in at least two bathrooms per building, one each in a women’s room and one in an all-gender restroom, if one is located in the building. Should meeting this goal mean the re-installation of dispenser machines, these should be refilled regularly.
2. All retail stores on campus that sell tampons should also sell full-size pads, not just panty-liners.
3. The Student Food Pantry should advertise that it provides free toiletries to students such as pads and tampons, as well as food.”
President Shelton also said that because of the viral post on Facebook, a student government senator reached out to her.
“She informed us that the SGA has a lot of funds that go unused, so we decided that the best way forwards was to push for SGA legislation that sets aside annual funds to pay for pads and tampons,” Shelton said.
Shelton also added that “in the next couple of weeks, I am going to meet with an SGA senator to write that bill.”
The project will also have a table in the Student Union in the middle of March for students to learn more about Generation Action and how to be involved.
Generation Action has a petition in order to make “Project Accessibility, Period” a permanent implication. The group has a petition that has had 100 signatures since October 2018. Their goal is to reach 11,000.
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