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University investing in access to resources to increase equity for faculty, staff, students, visitors

A new partnership among Auburn University students, the Office of Inclusion & Diversity, or OID, Facilities Management and Property Management will help support menstrual care needs by offering free menstrual products in select campus restrooms.

The partnership reinforces Auburn’s broader strategic and collaborative commitment to advance equity, inclusion and accessibility on campus. Period poverty is recognized globally as a public health issue and is defined as a lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand-washing facilities and/or waste management.

The effort comes at a time when there is a nationwide shortage of menstrual products and a steep uptick in cost due to inflation and supply chain issues. Reports show that the price of tampons and menstrual pads rose by 9.8% and 8.3%, respectively, throughout the year, further exacerbating challenges for communities that face economic insecurity.

Starting this fall, Auburn will have 139 new product dispensers across campus. This is just the first phase of this project, and the second phase will identify additional locations for dispensers and take place the following months leading into 2023. OID and Facilities Management are collaboratively funding both phases of the project.

The initiative began through student leadership to address student needs on campus. Students involved in the Auburn chapter of PERIOD. @ Auburn, AL—an international, youth-led nonprofit geared toward addressing period poverty and social stigma—launched a survey and petition to understand how students are directly and differentially impacted by period products and their availability.

“We believe that period products are tools necessary to live a healthy life and hence are crucial to provide for Auburn students,” said Regan Moss, 2022 Auburn graduate and founding president of PERIOD. @ Auburn. “We are thankful that OID, Facilities and PERIOD. have recognized us as more than just students, but also as humans.”

The chapter also worked with several campus organizations to advocate for the need for products at Auburn administration offices. OID and Facilities joined forces to support the effort in 2021, and OID worked with the PERIOD. @ Auburn, AL chapter to propose and implement the initiative.

“We are proud to have engaged student leaders and campus partners to provide our community with free access to these essential products and create a more equitable campus environment,” said Taffye Benson Clayton, associate provost and vice president for inclusion and diversity. “I also want to commend the students for elevating their voice and making a lasting impact on generations of Auburn Tigers. Many will benefit from this meaningful effort thanks to their continued passion and commitment.”

Facilities similarly worked to source suppliers this spring and installed dispensers across campus. Facilities and Property Management will maintain supplies and the condition of the dispensers moving forward.

“Facilities Management has been happy to collaborate with PERIOD., OID and Property Management on this project. When we were approached by the PERIOD. group, we were very impressed with the initiative they displayed and were eager to help them see this project through to completion,” said Dan Whatley, assistant vice president of Facilities Operations. “We see this as another opportunity for our team to support the needs of our campus community.”

Moss looks forward to seeing awareness of period poverty grow at Auburn.

“There are many stigmatized barriers that we must confront in order to truly have equitable access to education,” Moss said. “I hope more students will get involved with our organization and discover other innovative ways to support one another inside and outside of the classroom.”

A map of Auburn's campus.

Starting this fall, Auburn will have 139 new menstrual product dispensers across campus, thanks to a collaboration among multiple organizations and units.