Georgia Evans is part of the Student Success Series for Aunt Flow, where we shine the spotlight on student activists who are leading the menstrual movement by making menstrual products more accessible at their schools. Here's the scoop!
Haverford High School
Student Groups Involved in Launching the Menstrual Product Program:
Why is making period products accessible important to you?
We've all been in that situation where we went to the bathroom and unexpectedly got our periods. In that case, we're left with three options 1) awkwardly ask our teacher for a pass to the nurse 2) try to discretely grab a pad/tampon from our backpacks or 3) free bleed until the block ends. Which SUCKS. Period stigma is real - so many people don't feel comfortable talking about menstruation with their teachers or even friends. I have to say having multiple conversations with Mr. Donaghy (my principal) on the topic has helped me get over this a little, but it's not an additional pressure teens should face because of a natural bodily function. Really the machines are for three purposes: for an option when a student unexpected gets their period, for students who can't afford their own products, and to start conversations. We want people to talk about these machines and in turn, talk about their periods. Half the population of our school experiences it, the subject should not go unspoken.
What inspired you to advocate for menstrual products at your school?
At the end of last year we talked about ideas for the future. One of our club members, Libby Switzer, brought up how it's odd that the High School has no machines. Alana, Tommy, and I (the officers of Girl Up) over the summer decided we wanted to make getting these our first major focus for the year.
What was the process of launching Aunt Flow on your campus - from start to rollout or product?
Alana and I met with the administration to talk about the possibility of incorporating such machines. At first, they were receptive but didn't really want to have the products be free for fear that girls would shove them down the toilet, and just asked that Alana and I shop around for machines and bring back our results. A quick google search led me to a website for a company called Aunt Flow and I set up a phone call with one of their staff members, Danielle, which I took backstage in the auditorium one day after school. She was so helpful and one conversation with her made me determined to get these products for free - I realized no one would just have quarters on them if they suddenly got their period, making the purpose of the products being in the bathrooms obsolete. I made a presentation that I shared with the administrators before Alana and I's next meeting with them where they quickly agreed to contingent on Girl Up club members refilling the machines.
How long did it take?
It took about a month and a half to meet with our administration and get the machines up and running.
What was the hardest part of launching the program at your school?
Our biggest challenge has been maintaining the machines after they were installed. We have had lots of complaints from janitors and we're working on ways we can combat the misuse of products in the bathrooms, like putting up signs detailing why the products were put up and possible consequences if they continued to be misused. (NOTE: Aunt Flow suggests the solution of the ESTROGEN DISPENSER, which reduces misuse through a mechanical delay)
Have you received feedback on the Aunt Flow program?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive! Students come up to me and Girl Up’s VP Alana all the time thanking us for putting in the products. Our biggest issue has been complaints from the janitors about girls wetting and throwing tampons onto the ceiling. We are currently working on signs which we hope will combat this issue.
What advice would you give to others who are working to advocate for Aunt Flow on their campus?
My advice to everyone trying to get these products into their school is to communicate with your administration to make sure you know when and how these machines are being installed. Ours were initially put in without screws which did not hold well. Also, understand that not everyone will respect these products as much as you do. We’ve had a couple of incidents of people opening up products and putting them back into the machines along with the products being on the ceiling sometimes. When they’re new they’ll go quickly because people are curious about them. Everything has a learning curve! I would also make sure you have an understanding that janitors will be stocking the machines because as of right now our club members are doing it which has been challenging.
By Ana Carolina Wong