Free Product Initiative

Pilot Program Spring '23

The pilot program is an initiative started by Period Activists at ‘Deis (PAD) and Brandeis Student Union to bring free menstrual products to first-year residence halls. The pilot program includes 52 women’s and gender neutral bathrooms in East Quad, North Quad, and Massell Quad. Each of these bathrooms has one Aunt Flow free menstrual product dispenser.

As this program launches, PAD and Student Union need your help to make this program successful! If you notice that a dispenser is empty, or nearing empty, fill out this survey (which can also be found using the QR code on the dispensers themselves) to let us know. PAD and Student Union are responsible for restocking the dispensers, so we will rely on your help to let us know when the dispenser is empty. You may also use the same link to give us anonymous feedback on how comfortable you are using the products, or any comments you have about ways to improve the program. Lastly, please do not vandalize, misuse, or abuse the dispensers. The success of a near-future campus-wide free menstrual product program rides on the success of this Pilot Project.

Why Aunt Flow?

PAD and Student Union chose to use the Aunt Flow dispensers and products for a few reasons. Aunt Flow is a women-owned business from Columbus, Ohio, whose mission is to “ensure that everyone has access to period products.” The Aunt Flow dispensers are designed to be free, meaning they have no coin slot. The dispensers are high quality, and can hold up to 50 tampons and 50 pads, more than double the average capacity of most menstrual product dispensers. The products are also 100% cotton, plastic free, and hypoallergenic.

We only want the best products for students, so we provided samples to a group of students and asked them to test the products. Here are some reviews of the products:

“Out of all the products I have ever tried from dispensers, Aunt Flow is definitely the most comfortable to use.” - Brandeis Student

“When first trying the Aunt Flow products, I was hesitant. After having several bad experiences with cardboard applicators, I was not hopeful. However, the Aunt Flow products were a pleasant surprise. They were nothing like products I had previously used and I would definitely use them again.” - Brandeis Student

All the students, when asked, agreed that the products were “easy and comfortable”

Have you tried a product from the free dispensers? Let us know your thoughts on the products here.

What is the purpose of this pilot program?

The purpose of this pilot program is to prove to the administration that free products are not only necessary, but that implementing a campus-wide initiative is affordable and achievable. However, this end goal is not going to be easy to accomplish. First, we must demonstrate to the administration that it is worth absorbing the cost of upkeep for the Pilot Program (the 52 dispensers in first-year residence halls), and additionally encourage them to build in funding for an expansion to the whole campus. Lastly, we hope to be able to achieve our all-time goal of not only having free dispensers in women’s and gender neutral bathrooms, but men’s bathrooms too.

How did we get here?

PAD has been fighting for free products on (and off) of Brandeis’ campus since its founding in Spring of 2019 by Cassady Adams ‘22 and Linzy Rosen (Colby ‘22). In 2020, PAD began conversations with administration and Student Union on making this goal a reality. This started with Student Union’s implementation of 9 free Citron dispensers around campus, led by former Student Union Presidents Krupa Sourirajan and Kendal Chapman '22, with PAD’s assistance. These 9 dispensers had some issues in the beginning, because this program began around the time of the COVID-19 pandemic when students were not on campus. Despite issues that continue to this date, these 9 dispensers are still operating on campus, managed by Citron, the company that services the 69 paid dispensers on campus.

In fall of 2021, PAD decided to begin facing this issue more directly head-on. This movement, led by former Advocacy Chair, Savannah Jackson '22, started by creating a survey to be sent to Brandeis students to assess period inequity on campus. This survey got over 260 responses from students, and in Spring 2022, Jackson–with help from former PAD President Madison Leifer ‘22–used these responses to put together a comprehensive report: PAD Report 2021-22: Improving Access to Menstrual Products on Campus. Following this report, Jackson and then Student Union Senator Peyton Gillespie put together a proposal for funding from the Community Enhancement and Emergency Fund (CEEF) for the pilot program.

Fall 2022, PAD President Kyla Speizer and now Student Union President Peyton Gillespie finalized and presented this proposal to the CEEF board, and were approved for funding of this project beginning in Spring 2023. Speizer and Gillespie coordinated with Aunt Flow and the Brandeis Facilities team in order to procure and install the new Aunt Flow dispensers. In the first week of the Spring 2023 semester, Speizer, Gillespie, and PAD Advocacy Chair Grace Lassila organized student teams to fill up the 52 dispensers with Aunt Flow tampons and pads.