SGA Expands Aunt Flow Initiative

Free menstrual products have been added to more restrooms across campus

By Justice Dickey, Staff Writer

With the return of students to campus for the fall 2023 semester, some might have noticed free menstrual products in bathrooms around campus.

In the spring of 2020, an initiative was introduced by the Student Government Association (SGA) to provide free period products to students across campus. Through a collaboration with Aunt Flow, a female-owned company based out of Columbus, Ohio, SGA purchased 10 product dispensers and seven units each of pads and tampons. 

Newswire photo by Jackson Hare

Initially, the dispensers were dispersed between the women’s restrooms in Gallagher Student Center (GSC) and the Health United Building (HUB).

Due to COVID-19 and product changes from Aunt Flow, the dispensers were delayed until April 2021 and were not installed until Sept. 2021 due to staffing gaps. Installation was completed  March 2022. 

The cost for the dispensers and products totaled approximately $3,700, which was pulled from SGA’s executive fund. This purchase was expected to last three years. However, the product stock lasted less than nine months.

Aunt Flow dispensers, containing free menstrual products, can be found in women’s, men’s and gender neutral restrooms on campus.

Photo Courtesy of Justice Dickey

With the initial launch of these products proving more popular than anticipated, conversations began around expanding access to this resource.

“There has been a lot of good feedback on (the installation of the products),” SGA Vice President Rebecca Thomas said.

Thomas spearheaded the expansion of the project to purchase and install 12 additional dispensers over this past summer to be distributed among women’s restrooms in Conaton Learning Center (CLC) and the McDonald Library due to their central location on campus. 

Sparking from a request from Xavier’s LGBTQ+ Alliance, the expansion also included the purchase of five display boxes to be placed in the gender neutral and men’s bathrooms in GSC. 

Junior criminal justice major Leo Fowler highlighted this being a step towards a more inclusive and accepting campus.

“Having period products in the men’s restroom helps me feel visible on campus. Especially because trans men are such a small portion of the student population, having those products available communicates to me that my needs are seen and addressed.” Fowler said.

“It’s a small gesture, but it shows a commitment to supporting our trans community on campus,” he added.

This particular expansion has stirred some concern that products available in the men’s restroom may be ill-received. However, Thomas suggests that this can be an opportune moment for learning. 

“If you hear anything negative about them being in the men’s restroom or in the gender neutral restrooms… it’s an educational opportunity,” Thomas said. 

“I think respectfully letting them know that there are male-identifying students who get periods, and whether you like it or not, it’s not really up to you,” Thomas continued.

Junior finance major Aaron O’Loughlin addressed the new resource, stating, “I’m sort of indifferent on it, but I feel that if it can be a valuable resource to those that need it, it’s good in that aspect, and for those that don’t like it, they can just wash their hands and leave.”