Design by Erin Shi

Last January, the University of Michigan implemented a free menstrual product program, which would ensure all public restrooms on campus to be stocked with pads and tampons for students. Students have since found that several residential buildings on campus seem to have not been included in this initiative.

The University’s menstrual product program began in the fall 2021 semester as a pilot program, during which around 100 restrooms on campus were provided free menstrual products. The following semester, the program was expanded to more restrooms on campus.

The University’s program came after the city of Ann Arbor became the first city in the United States to require public businesses to provide free menstrual products in all bathrooms, a proposal that was approved at the Ann Arbor City Council in November 2021. 

Living in a U-M residence hall is almost a universal experience for undergraduate students, with around 97% of first-year students living in a dorm.

LSA freshman Lani Whitmer, a Mary Markley resident, said she’s more likely to use restrooms in her residence hall that offer free menstrual products than restrooms that don’t. 

“I’ve been caught in a situation where I didn’t have any (menstrual products) in my dorm,” Whitmer said. “I keep in mind which (restrooms) have menstrual products and I’ll be more inclined to go there.”

LSA freshman Faith Massoni, also a Mary Markley resident, shared similar inconveniences with the lack of accessibility to menstrual products while living on campus.

“I have had to go to the market in the middle of the night and buy (menstrual products),” Massoni said.

Heather Guenther, Director of Communications for the U-M Division of Student Life, told The Daily in an email that the menstrual product program is meant to provide students with temporary solutions to reproductive hygiene and is not intended to be used as a permanent solution in residential areas. 

“The program is designed to stock products in public spaces where students may be when traveling between classes or to work and is not a replacement or supply for everyday needs,” Guenther wrote. “The university continues to evaluate the program, including product demand, though there are no plans to further expand at this time.”

Kinesiology freshman Sophie Dubovoy, a Couzens Hall resident, said she has also encountered difficulties with being stuck without menstrual products in dorm restrooms multiple times. Dubovoy said she believes that all public buildings on campus should provide free menstrual products, including residence halls.

“It’s something that, if it’s (in one building), all of them should have it, kind of thing,” Dubovoy said.

All-female dorms such as Martha Cook, Betsy Barbour and Helen Newberry are also experiencing a lack of menstrual products in their restrooms. Engineering sophomore Eliza Lane, a Martha Cook resident, said offering free menstrual products would go a long way in improving access and convenience.

“It would be nice to have a baseline product there, just in case someone didn’t have access to products at the time,” Lane said. “It would be a nice backup.”

Daily Staff Reporter Natalie Anderson and Daily News Contributor Mary Corey can be reached at nateand@umich.edu and mcorey@umich.edu.