In Ann Arbor, the new year came with a new ordinance requiring businesses to provide menstrual products in all public bathrooms for people of all gender identities.
The ordinance was spurred by a local high school student who approached Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor with the idea to provide the products for the community.
City Councilmember Ali Ramlawi, D-Ward 5, owns Jerusalem Garden, which is following the ordinance. He said he also supports a resolution requiring the city to provide public restrooms but is satisfied with the progress made with the current ordinance.
“We (as a) city fail to provide public restrooms,” Ramlawi said. “And so to tell others in the community what to do on something we don’t do ourselves in ways of providing facilities for the most vulnerable, I felt that we’re getting ahead of ourselves.”
The University of Michigan does not currently follow the ordinance, using its constitutional autonomy which allows it to operate outside Ann Arbor’s jurisdiction.
In a December email to the Michigan Daily, Fitzgerald wrote the University is currently running a pilot program where they are offering menstrual products in 96 restrooms across campus. Fitzgerald wrote the purpose of the program is to assess demand and costs associated with a full-scale rollout.
“The purpose of the pilot program is to enable the University to assess the campus demand and associated operational impact and costs,” Fitzgerald wrote in December. “U-M has thousands of public restrooms across the Ann Arbor campus, so understanding the scope is critically important before making a final decision.”
In an email to Daily on Friday, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald wrote the University remains undecided on whether to follow the ordinance.
“We do not yet have further information to share,” Fitzgerald said.
Students and student organizations at the University have continued to advocate for the adoption of the ordinance including The Dot Org. The group strives to make menstrual products more accessible and reduce the stigma around menstruation. LSA senior Livvy Hintz is the executive director of the group, which created a petition to show support for the ordinance.
“It’s just really a shame that the University (is undecided) because they have so many public bathrooms in the city,” Hintz said. “So we took it upon ourselves to make a petition and try to get it out there to the university and the campus like the city as a whole.”
Hintz also suggested the University has the data it needs to make decisions regarding menstrual products
“So although the University says that they have this pilot program that they’re trying to collect data from, they have already done several pilot programs in the past,” Hintz said.While the ordinance only went into effect on Jan. 1, some Ann Arbor businesses such as Sharetea have been providing menstrual products since they opened in 2020. Sharetea owner Justin Zhao said they had no special reasons for providing menstrual products.
The Dot Org has no plans to stop publicizing the petition anytime soon, including sharing it on social media. Hintz said she believes the University is capable of financing such an ordinance and should participate.
“I strongly believe that the University has all the information and all the resources that they need to follow the city in this great decision for accessibility,” Hintz said.
Daily Staff Reporter Matthew Shanbom can be reached at email@example.com