The truth of period care at Archie Williams

Menstrual products are available in womens restrooms, gender neutral restrooms, and at least one men’s restroom on Archie Williams Campus.
Menstrual products are available in women’s restrooms, gender neutral restrooms, and at least one men’s restroom on Archie Williams Campus.
Peyton Price

When students at Archie Williams forget to bring their own pads, tampons, and other feminine products, they may opt to use the school-supplied tampons and pads that are in bathrooms around campus. However, the free menstrual products in the school bathrooms only come in one size and are not serviceable to those who need products with varied absorbency.

As of 2022, Archie Williams students and faculty have had access to free tampons and menstrual pads on campus bathrooms thanks to the Period Project Club and Tamalpias Union High School District (TUHSD) administration that supported their pitch of getting more accessible period products on campus. In September 2022, TUHSD passed Assembly Bill 367, requiring free menstrual products in 50 percent of campus bathrooms. Since the bill passed, menstrual products have been available in women’s restrooms, gender-neutral restrooms, and one men’s restroom on the Archie Williams campus.

Though students appreciate having period products available, the provided products aren’t sufficient for everyone’s menstrual cycle. The tampons and pads offered in the bathrooms come in one size: regular. Regular-sized tampons absorb up to five mL of liquid, while light tampons hold three mL of liquid, and super tampons hold up to 12 mL of liquid. Depending on someone’s flow, a larger-sized tampon that isn’t offered in bathrooms could be necessary. An anonymous sophomore shared that she doesn’t feel comfortable using the pads and tampons supplied in restrooms on campus. 

“… the pads they have are honestly not big enough, and they’re not thick enough either. If you have a heavy flow, then you need a bigger pad. There should be more sizes and more of a variety for more body types,” the student said. 

Although provided feminine hygiene products are not sufficient for all Archie Williams students, students reported that the access to limited products still benefits them when they are unable to resource their own products. Feminine products are expensive due to the Pink Tax, a tax in the United States on tampons and other products catered towards women. According to a study done by National Women’s Health (NOW), a woman spends around 20 dollars per cycle on feminine hygiene products and around 18,000 dollars over their entire lifetime.

What some students don’t know is that the Wellness center offers a variety of period care products. If students cannot find period care options that work for them in school bathrooms, Wellness is another spot to seek out. Beatrix Berry, the Outreach Specialist in the Wellness Center, works to support students and direct them to other helpful resources. Berry works on-site in the Wellness Center all days of the week, excluding Wednesdays.  

“We have a couple of awesome resources [in the Wellness Center.] If students come in we have pads, liners, and tampons available. We also have heating pads if students are having cramps and feeling distracted from class. Typically people come here [to the Wellness Center] to use the heating pads,” Berry said.

To access resources in the Wellness Center during class, students must ask permission from their teacher to leave to take a break in the Wellness Center. Whether their reasoning is to take a short mental health break or use the helpful resources that the center offers, most teachers are understanding when students ask to visit Wellness..

“…I know that not all students are comfortable telling their teachers, ‘I need resources for this [period care-related issues,’] but typically the way that it works, if a student needs a break, they can just say to their teacher, ‘Hey, can I go to the Wellness center?’,” Beatrix said. “We let them come here for 10-15 minutes or longer, and if something serious is going on or they need to talk to someone, that is the general understanding at the school.”   

Students oftentimes aren’t looking to open up to their teachers about period care-related issues due to the stigma around periods and period care. The Period Project Club at Archie Williams works to fundraise money to provide menstruation products and reduce period stigma on campus. Junior Samantha Dvorin is the president of The Period Project Club and leads the initiative to get more free feminine products on campus. 

“We do fundraisers to raise money for period care, and right now we are using the money to create period care stations in the Wellness Center. We are getting more of a variety of pads and tampons and are going to create a period care station to provide higher quality products that aren’t accessible in school bathrooms,” Samantha said.

While the school bathrooms across the Archie Williams campus have free and accessible period care products, the Period Project Club’s initiative is to create a care cart in the Wellness Center with a larger variety of tampons, higher quality brands, and different sizes. Students can expect to see period care carts in the Wellness Center as early as the beginning of next semester.

 

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