In 2019, the student services committee of the Undergraduate Student Government launched Tampon Time, an initiative that installed free menstrual product dispensers across campus. The program was halted due to COVID-19, but the student services committee has been working to revamp the project this year, creating the Period Box Program.
Spearheaded by Beatriz de Almeida, the student services deputy director and Makayla Dawkins, the sexual health and education advocacy coordinator, the program aims to increase accessibility and alleviate period poverty within the UConn community.
“The vision behind this project was to create something similar to the GloveBox, in which students would be able to order their desired menstrual products online and receive them at their dorms on campus,” said de Almeida, a seventh-semester human rights and political science major.
Students who sign up online before Dec. 15 will receive a six-month supply of regular and super-sized products available for pickup during the spring semester. Students can choose to receive tampons, pads or both, and have the option of adding a free menstrual cup to their box.
According to de Almeida and Dawkins, the program requires great planning on the committee’s end. They conduct meetings with other student organizations, gauge interest based on Qualtrics survey questions and budget well in advance of the program’s launch.
Part of the committee’s mission is to support local companies, as well as those that are women, BIPOC and queer-owned. Products are sourced from The Honey Pot, Dot Cup and Payne & Comfort.
“We take students’ product preferences and attempt to create partnerships with brands,” Dawkins, a fifth-semester gender, sexuality and reproduction major, said. “When students pick up a box, they’re also asked to review products and this helps us with renewing partnerships with brands.”
The student services committee also aims to push for sustainability when it comes to menstrual products. If selected by a student, the Period Box can come with a menstrual cup — a product that can last up to ten years with proper care. Danna Tortal, another sexual health and education advocacy coordinator for USG, emphasizes that there is no one best product; it’s important for students to have access to a variety of options. In the future, the committee plans to have a period underwear giveaway.
“Period underwear is eco-friendly, sustainable and often more comfortable than other single-use menstrual products such as pads and tampons,” Tortal, a human rights, molecular & cell biology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies major, said.
Students looking to get involved in USG can join one of USG’s four committees, each focusing on a specific policy area. Alexis Charles, the student services advocacy director, is responsible for advocating for student quality of life.
“Advocacy does not always look the same; committee members may be meeting with administrators to change policy, working with other groups on accessibility issues and/or hosting an event to connect students around campus,” said Charles, a seventh-semester women’s, gender and sexuality studies and political science major.
The Period Box Program is not the only thing USG has in store for the end of the semester; on Dec. 10, students can pick up a free care package from the library and will be able to print up to 15 pages for free until Dec. 19. Keep an eye on USG’s Instagram page to hear about future events and ways to participate!