The University of Maryland residential facilities department will begin stocking tampons and pads in some dorm restrooms.
Once the department has all of the products and dispensers, it will work to roll out the initiative into restrooms as soon as possible, according to building services associate director Vassie Hollamon.
The department identified 103 public locations in dorms to put the menstrual products, including all-gender and women’s restrooms on first floors and in multipurpose rooms. The products will only be placed in these public areas because students on the upper floors are essentially in their dorm room, Hollamon explained.
The initiative aims to address the situational need for menstrual products, such as when someone gets their period unexpectedly and does not have any products with them.
The initial cost of this project — which includes dispensers for each bathroom, the first stock of menstrual products and three restocks of the products — is about $8,000. The funds will come from the residential facilities budget, which is made up of resident fees.
“We quickly realized that the cost is negligible in the scheme of things,” Hollamon said.
The menstrual products will be placed in clear plastic boxes the housekeeping staff can easily restock.
Hollamon said the housekeeping staff already visits every restroom twice a day to clean and restock products such as toilet paper and soap, so they will restock the pads and tampons then.
Housekeepers will also initially be keeping track of the consumption of the products for the department to know the usage rate and how many more products it should purchase.
Livi Carey, a junior government and politics major and Residence Hall Association interim residential facilities advisory board coordinator, said there have previously been successful initiatives on the campus to place menstrual products in academic buildings.
These initiatives, along with other universities already offering menstrual products in their dorms, inspired RHA members to begin looking into putting the products in this university’s dorms.
In October, the RHA passed a resolution to support the residential facilities department’s initiative to install menstrual hygiene product dispensers in dorms.
“We saw [the] need to make emergency products available in the residence halls,” Carey said.
In December 2019, resident assistants in Hagerstown Hall saw a need for menstrual products in dorms as well. They spent some of their event funding to put free menstrual products in all bathrooms in the dorm.
The RHA’s work on menstrual products is not done, Carey said. The RHA is hoping to be able to expand the free products into South Campus Commons and Courtyards, privately owned and managed apartments located on the campus.
Carey plans to reach out to their management company to see if it would be interested in taking part in the project.
The RHA and residential facilities department are also discussing larger economic needs surrounding menstrual products in addition to situational needs, according to Hollamon and RHA president Scott Cronin,.
“This is a regular need for [some students]. How can we meet them where they’re at?” Cronin, a junior government and politics major, said. “This is one piece of a larger puzzle, though quite a large piece. There’s a lot more for us to keep doing.”