Ten little red baskets make the difference between a normal day and public humiliation. At least, that’s the idea behind the Period Project, which started with over 500 feminine products and a goal to save the University’s menstruating population. So far, it seems to be working.
The Period Project, which started in March, provides emergency feminine hygiene products for students who need them. To date, it operates at 10 on-campus locations, with around 15-20 tampons and pads in each spot. The products are kept in bright red baskets, usually with a sign to mark it as a station.
In addition to the Women’s Center, some of the most used baskets are located at the main information desk in the Student Union, at the access services front desk on the second floor of the middleton library and in the second floor bathroom of Patrick F. Taylor hall.
You won’t find any of the baskets in the bathroom, though. The project’s coordinators found that leaving baskets filled with free supplies in the bathrooms was just too tempting. Summer Steib, the director of the LSU Women’s Center, said they had to change plans because of this.
“We’ve got to move it out of the bathroom, because it was appearing that folks were just seeing them there and were like, ‘Oh, free tampons, pads, let me stock up,’” Steib said. “Once we did that, it’s really cut down on the usage, which is good, because that’s then reflective at the end, really, of students using them because they’re in an emergency situation.”
The project also keeps the baskets out of the bathroom for menstruating students that don’t identify as female, hoping to keep the initiative inclusive for everyone.
Just one month after the project began, almost all of the supplies had been used. The current supply of products was bought with money from the Women’s Center’s Kendra Scott fundraiser, which got around 1,700 tampons and 1,600 pads. The project started out with about $79 in seed money from the LSU Student Government, which bought 288 tampons and 288 pads.
Steib wants to work with SG to create more financial legislation for the project, hoping to get more funds and awareness.
The project also intends to add 10 to 15 new locations and offer more supplies, including pain relievers, wipes and a change of clothes. Women’s Center graduate assistant Jordyn Warren said the goal was to keep students on campus and comfortable, and leggings would help.
“By expanding it that way, we think we’ll reach more people,” Warren said. “You have some cases where people are having an emergency, but they feel like it’s just too much of a mess for them to just go get a pad or a tampon and head to class. Now you have the pad and tampon, but then you’re also able to change into something that you can get to class in real quick and then when class is over, you can head home and clean yourself up.”
SG senator Sarah Perkins, a political science senior, was involved in the initiative when it was passed in Nov. 2017, and said SG will continue to support the project.
“This initiative is a pilot program,” Perkins said. “We would like it to expand into other things. People actually use the products, and we do have to refill them so they know it has been useful.”
Possible expansions would include working with campus facilities to get plastic receptacles for bathrooms stalls, or at least trash cans in all bathrooms so feminine products can be disposed of easily, and to get departments to donate t-shirts for period packs. While they have big plans for the future, project coordinators are happy with what they’ve accomplished so far.
“It’s been very successful,” Warren said. “I think it’s much needed, not just here but everywhere because there’s really not an inclusive culture for women and especially for women and their periods anywhere.”