By Maria Flores, Sept. 14, 2021
ASI announced on Sept. 8 its partnership with Aunt Flow, a sustainable menstrual product company, to offer complimentary pads and tampons to all students, staff and faculty in ASI facilities such as the BRIC, Bronco Student Center and Children’s Center.
During a November 2020 meeting, the ASI Board of Directors approved an allocation plan for the ASI basic needs initiative. Initially, the board approved $11,000 to pilot the menstrual product program; however, $17,190 is now funding the purchase of 35 dispensers located inside and outside of the 32 ASI restrooms.
Krista Smith, associate executive director of ASI, explained that even during the campus’ shift to remote instruction, ASI recognized the need for menstrual products for students of all genders. ASI formed a task group of part-time student Campus Recreation employees Maria Popa, Abigail Robles and Gabriella Zulewski to focus on complimentary menstrual products.
“They are the ones who did a bunch of research and found the company we decided to move forward with, Aunt Flow,” said Smith. “We wanted to make sure we were providing good quality products. In terms of their organic cotton make-up and biodegradable packaging, we really thought it resonated with Cal Poly Pomona students and our commitment to sustainability. The dispensers were well designed, easier to maintain, and we’re able to see the levels of product availability.”
According to the Aunt Flow website, for every menstrual product sold, one pad or tampon will be donated to organizations like Period.org, Cares, Dignity Grows, Giving Hope and Help and Sylvia’s Sisters to assist menstruators in need.
Even before this most recent program, Smith described ASI’s push for basic need products and how it influenced its partnership with Aunt Flow. When the Poly Pantry opened in March 2019, the ASI Care Coordinator Alyssa Christiansen and Custodian Valerie Segura piloted the first donated menstrual product dispenser in the lower lobby of the women’s restroom in the BSC.
“Alyssa Christiansen got huge donations of menstrual products through the Poly Pantry and provided them to the restroom for immediate use,” said Smith. “Valerie managed that program for a really long time, tracking inventory, seeing what the utilization was, and we learned a lot through that process.”
In addition to these accessible products, the Womxn’s Resource Center and the Health and Wellness Center offer menstrual products such as tampons, pads and menstrual cups for students.
“If students recognize there is a need for folks who menstruate and are willing to meet that need, it’s awesome,” said Maria Cerce, coordinator of the Womxn’s Resource Center. “The sustainability person within me says, ‘Everyone should get a menstrual cup because as frightening as it seems, it’s worth it, economically speaking.’”
Piper Bridgman, art history student and treasurer of #GrrrlSquad, respects the expansion of more accessible menstrual products.
“It’s very important to be inclusive to all genders because not everyone who identifies as women experiences menstruation or the other way around, so it’s important that everyone has access to those products,” said Bridgman
Although the complimentary menstrual product program is new, Smith believes this investment has “long-term capacity.” If students recognize the importance of menstrual products as basic needs, Smith added, the program continues.
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