The University Insider is The Daily’s first faculty and staff-oriented newsletter. This weekly newsletter will give U-M faculty and staff the ability to see the most important issues on campus and in Ann Arbor — particularly those related to administrative decisions — from the perspective of an independent news organization. It will also provide a better understanding of student perspectives.
The University of Michigan has not decided if it will abide by the new Ann Arbor ordinance requiring menstrual and sanitary products in all public bathrooms. The ordinance, which was approved by City Council on Nov. 15, is designed to make menstrual products more accessible and reduce inequality in regards to accessing hygiene products. This ordinance will take effect in Ann Arbor on Jan. 1 2022, but since the University has constitutional autonomy, it operates outside of the jurisdiction of Ann Arbor and is not required to follow the ordinance.
In an email to The Michigan Daily, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald wrote the University has not made an official decision whether to abide by the new city ordinance. Fitzgerald wrote the University implemented a pilot in August in coordination with the Office of Student Life and Central Student Government to provide menstrual products in select University bathrooms.
“The purpose of the pilot program is to enable the University to assess the campus demand and associated operational impact and costs,” Fitzgerald wrote. “U-M has thousands of public restrooms across the Ann Arbor campus, so understanding the scope is critically important before making a final decision.”
Fitzgerald said the pilot program provided free products in a total of 96 restrooms in nine residence halls, seven academic buildings and the four university union facilities on the Ann Arbor campus.
In an interview with The Daily, Councilmember Lisa Disch, D-Ward 1, said the University is not governed by the City of Ann Arbor and therefore does not have to follow the ordinance. Disch said adopting the resolution would be in the best interest of the University’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“I would hope that the University would make its best effort to follow Ann Arbor’s model on this … equity issue,” Disch said. “It’s treating all residents the same whether they menstrate or not, and given the University’s commitments to DEI, I would hope that it would see that this ordinance is in line with those efforts.”
Fitzgerald said the University was expecting feedback on the pilot program from the fall term in January.