You’re going to class with 15 minutes to spare, but suddenly something begins to feel off, or rather, wet.
It’s Aunt Flo making her way to you on campus of all places! Suddenly, those fifteen minutes don’t seem like a whole lot when the only way to get the supplies you need is to go back to the dorms. This is where Ana Diaz drew the line and said, “Fine, if no one has done anything about this, then I will!”
Diaz, a junior at a private liberal-arts school called Macalester College, in Minnesota, is partnered with Fresh Energy, a clean energy non-profit organization located in St. Paul. Fresh Energy is also the publisher of Midwest Energy News,” which Diaz has written and edited content for. Soon, Diaz was executing the publication’s “40 Under 40,” which aims to promote a clean-energy economy across the state.
With the creation of the Facebook page, “Tampons, Period,” Diaz undeniably awesome networking skills have done it again. The page promotes a safe space for anyone who needs a period product in a pinch. “The group can also be for anyone who doesn’t have a period, but wants to support the health and well-being of over half the Macalester College community,” reads the Facebook page description.
“The idea came to me when I needed a tampon in a pinch. I had a 1:20 p.m. class and had been in the library since 10 a.m. When I was leaving for my 1:20, ten minutes before class, I realized I needed a tampon. In the rush to get to work, I must have forgotten to drop more tampons in my backpack! I took a long walk around the library in search of someone to ask for a tampon.
“Macalester is a small school, so finding someone you know isn’t too hard. I didn’t find any of my friends though, and I became anxious. I ran into someone last minute, but the initial thought of, ‘Oh, what if I had not run into someone?’ had already crossed my mind. I didn’t want anyone to feel stressed or anxious because they needed supplies and felt too shy to ask a stranger for help, and the [Facebook] page helps with that.”
“Situations like these are very common. Over half of Macalester students live off campus and often live a decent walk or commute from school, too far for any person to quickly run back home before class. Going back home is not an option for any college student with a tight schedule.”
“The group has over 500 members at this point (at a school of roughly 2,000 students). The page connects students, so we may share feminine-hygiene and health products of all kinds. On the page, we have gotten women tampons, pads, liners and even Plan-B. I haven’t done a formal count, but I think we help more people get Ibuprofen than we do tampons or pads!”
“I didn’t have any real expectations regarding membership. That being said, I am incredibly happy with it! The best part is seeing the quality of the interactions on the page.
“For example, students get silly with their posts when they ask for supplies. One girl wrote, ‘In search of a tizzle for my vagizzle on the basement floor of the library,’ and someone got her a tampon within 15 minutes. The sort of playfulness that de-stigmatizes a normal, healthy and human process feels much more rewarding than any number of members.”
“The format and structure of the group came from another large Facebook group, ‘Free and For Sale.’ On ‘Free and For Sale,’ students sell clothing, books and anything they want to a large community of students. It’s basically like Craigslist but within our small school community.
“The only difference is that ‘Tampons, Period’ is a place to share, not to sell. I have never seen another student charge for a feminine-hygiene product. I think this is really important because this sort of exchange not only helps people across campus with taking care of basic health needs, but it also builds a community.”
“My work experience with ‘The 40 Under 40’ required a lot of personal work connecting my partner organization, Fresh Energy, to various leaders in energy across the Midwest. Although working on the ‘40 Under 40’ project showed me how to use tools like Twitter and Facebook for advocacy in state politics and local development, it didn’t necessarily prompt me to think about community and networks within my own school. However, that entire experience left me with a deeper understanding of the organizing power of social media.”
“I do believe schools everywhere should find a way of connecting female students across campus, but only as a first step. Honestly, I think it’s sad how we need groups like ‘Tampons, Period.’ I see schools like Brown University that provide feminine-hygiene products for free to their students.
“I’m glad that Brown decided to implement that policy, but I think that more schools need to take that step, including Macalester. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be a need for ‘Tampons, Period’ as a resource for feminine-hygiene supplies, because students would just be provided with them.”
“‘Tampons, Period’ started with an intentionally vague purpose. I really wanted to let the members be the ones to shape the group into what they wanted it to be. As a result, the group not only functions as a resource for supplies but also as a safe space for its members to be unabashedly period positive.
“People post videos, images and articles about women’s health and reproduction. We have a lot of fun in the group. People write funny posts to ask for a product or sometimes post funny links like a ‘Reductress’ article.”
“There are definitely posts about more serious health-related content as well. Students have posted on the page about setting up IUD companions and a doctor’s guide to doing a pelvic exam on a victim of sexual assault. These are resources I could have never provided alone. I really owe the success of the group to all the engaged people on the page. They’re the best.”