PROJECT TAMPON OVERVIEW
Project Tampon was started by 2016-2017 UCS as an effort to bring free menstrual products to students at Brown. During its first year, the project was entirely funded and run by the UCS.
The 2017-2018 UCS continued restocking 52 bathrooms campus-wide and collected both distribution and usage data. By the end of the year, UCS’s data showed continued usage from students. 2018-2019 UCS was then able to successfully institutionalize funding and distribution from Brown’s Facilities Management moving forward.
What kind of response did UCS get from the administration initially?
· UCS took the initiative to plan and launch this project independently of the administration to ensure that it could begin immediately at the opening of the 2016 semester. UCS gave a courtesy notice to our Health Services director just before the school-wide announcement was released. The University Communications Office was contacting us soon after the initial project announcement to get information, and we imagine the administration might have enjoyed more notice, but the response was quite positive.
· Here’s a statement from Brown spokesperson Brian Clar to the Huffington Post about the project, to give you an idea of the formal administration response: “The UCS students took tremendous initiative in the effort to provide tampons and sanitary products in restrooms on campus. We expect that UCS will continue to solicit feedback on this new initiative and collect data on the use of these products. We will be interested to learn what they find as they assess the effectiveness of the program moving forward.”
UCS hoped to collect some numbers on the reception of this program so that we could advocate for its becoming a permanent/University-supported initiative, but wanted to begin it ourselves to avoid possible bureaucratic hurdles.
Did you receive any initial support from any departments on campus (health services)?
· While Health Services was not involved in the planning of the project, their response was positive. The Brown Daily Herald (our campus paper) included, in an article about the project, our Health Services Director Unab Khan expressing hope that the initiative will promote conversation about every person’s right to healthy sexuality.
Did the Brown Undergraduate Council of Students absorb all of the costs for the products, or did you receiving any monetary help from departments on campus?
· UCS 2016-2017 received funding for the project through Brown’s Undergraduate Finance Board (UFB). The Undergraduate Finance Board approves budgets for all Category III student groups at Brown (we categorize student groups based on how long they’ve been around, which really only affects the funding levels they can get through UFB, and Category III is the “highest” stratum), drawing from student activities fees to budget among over 180 groups. We got the funding through some of the fees UFB is authorized to allocate to various student activities; this may not be feasible at all schools depending on their student group funding structure. We ordered the pads and tampons from Boxed Wholesale, if you’re looking for a vendor.
· In 2017-2018, UCS applied to a program called Brown UFunds. Deans and departments across the university used to control their own funding, but in 2017 they all decided to centralize funding through one office, the office of the President, which oversees UFunds. We applied through this and were able to secure the funding we needed to complete the 2017 semester
· Since the program has been institutionalized in 2018, UCS does not pay for any of the tampons
Did members of the council restock the bathrooms each week, or do you have something set up with custodial staff?
· From 2016-208, council members restocked the bathrooms each week; our Student Wellness committee members handled restocking on a regular basis, since this falls very neatly within their programmatic focus as a committee. The E-Board had been refilling the baskets in the interim before General Body members joined UCS and Student Wellness. Each of the bathrooms we stocked was re-supplied every Sunday, and we also had started to supplementing the stocks in the bathrooms that see the highest traffic on Wednesday each week.
· Once the project was institutionalized at a university level, facilities staff refills the supplies as part of their regular routines
How many bathrooms do you have on campus?
· We started only stocking non-residential bathrooms (i.e., in academic buildings), for a total of 52 bathrooms
· Since facilities has taken on the restocking they have expanded the program to include 30 non-residential buildings with approximately 80 locations.
About how much had this cost you all each week?
· We don't have exact cost breakdowns by week since the tampons and pads aren't distributed by their original package units (which would have uniform prices attached), but our budget for the year was $8,000 dollars.
· Each order from Boxed costs $800.50 for 2880 tampons and 2400 pads, and lasts approximately five weeks.
Do you get a selection of products such as regular/ultra tampons, pads, pantyliners?
· We have regular tampons and regular pads, as we hoped an intermediate level of absorbency would be the most useful for the largest number of people. We've been using tampons with plastic applicators since a lot of folks find those easier to use than cardboard applicators. We did discuss pantyliners during the planning phase, but, due in part to budgetary constraints, we decided to focus on providing tampons and pads. I'm sure if you could obtain the funding for it, a wider range of products might be very well received!
How are the products stocked in the bathrooms: in baskets or dispensers?
· The products were initially stored in baskets on the sink or counter space in each bathroom. We purchased plastic baskets because they are affordable and able to withstand more water contact than wicker-type baskets that might have been more aesthetically appealing.
· Since 2018, all dispensers in women’s and gender inclusive bathrooms have been converted to dispense at no cost to students
· For reference, here is the link to the statement we released when the project launched
Proposal to administration: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14lh3NlHdXFnkD3SWhr6SR0yfPz9hfY_2hMfHugQACeY/edit
Flyer to recruit volunteers: