Free tampons and pads have been placed the restrooms of eight buildings around campus, in a move initiated by Antonia Leggett ’15 as of Friday, May 8.
The tampons and pads will be housed in small organizers in Paresky Commons, Samuel Phillips Hall, Morse Hall, George Washington Hall, Bulfinch Hall, Isham Medical Center and Borden Gym.
The tampons are meant to be an emergency source, rather than a regular source, according to an email to The Phillipian from Andrea Orben, Isham Health Educator, who helped Leggett with the project. They are meant to accompany and replace the currently unstocked coin-fed tampon dispensers in bathrooms around campus.
After seeing feminine products provided in bathrooms at various peer schools, such as Phillips Exeter Academy, Leggett saw a lack of support for women at Andover in regards to addressing their needs. Without any hesitation, Leggett approached Head of School John Palfrey and informed him of this issue.
“When I told [Palfrey] that [other schools] provided tampons and pads for free in public bathrooms, and our school did not, he was very surprised. He didn’t even know we had tampon and pad machines, and he didn’t know we had to pay for them. He was completely unaware of the need,” said Leggett.
Palfrey followed up by contacting Christopher Joel, Director of Business Services. They both helped fund the project while Leggett and Orben were responsible for the planning and execution.
Leggett and Orben also distributed posters in various bathrooms across campus, providing viewers with facts about menstrual health.
“I thought [making these posters] was really great, because I thought that people’s knowledge about menstrual and vaginal health is really varied. I thought providing these posters is another way to get a source of education while using the bathroom,” said Leggett.
After observing how free feminine products are available in public bathrooms at peer schools, Leggett looked at the feminist issues tied with the lack of tampon options on campus. Free tampons are a representation of women taking charge and making their own decisions, and topics such as menstruation and periods should not be shamed and hidden from the public view, she said.
“People often feel extremely uncomfortable discussing menstruation in public spheres. I hope that by bringing this [project] to campus, the common reaction of shock or disgust when any mention of periods comes up can be eliminated. When I see other schools providing pads and tampons for free in the restrooms, it is clear that there is someone in power who is looking out for the interests of women. Up until now, it looked as if the machines in the restrooms hadn’t been filled in years, though the need for these products has been consistent,” said Leggett.
In regards to the future of this initiative, Leggett hopes to expand the program to accommodate for people with female genitalia who do not identify as female. With the goal of inclusivity in mind, Leggett looks to provide tampons to all gender-neutral bathrooms.
Furthermore, she hopes the initiative will continue on its own after she graduates.
“Right now is just the pilot of the project. We just started out with a few locations on campus for the single sex bathrooms, but soon it will hopefully expand… At this point, now that the wheels are turning on this project, it will hopefully just be a matter of making sure each year that the resources are allocated accordingly, and that the janitorial staff is informed so that they know how often and in what quantities the resources need to be restocked. I’m pretty sure it shouldn’t need any more momentum from students,” said Leggett.