PERIOD at Ohio State, a non-profit activist group, held a press conference Wednesday afternoon in Curl Market to spread awareness about its work to allow free access to tampons on campus and its efforts to aid in driving the bill to eliminate the tax on feminine hygiene products.
The event attracted a wide range of speakers — from students involved in the organization, to government officials and community leaders. Julia Dennen, director of government relations of Ohio State’s Undergraduate Student Government, gave a briefing on how far the university has come in offering free menstrual products in campus bathrooms since the pilot project last spring.
The pilot program was launched in the RPAC and Ohio Union women’s bathrooms. Since last spring, 4,000 free menstrual products have already been distributed at the Ohio Union alone. After the pilot’s success, the program has spread to dining locations, libraries and other places where there is a heavy student population.
They are now looking into putting products in all academic buildings, convenience stores and residence halls.
“Here at Ohio State, the student voice isn’t part of the equation, the student voice is the equation,” Dennen said.
Ohio State House Representative Brigid Kelly, a Democrat from Ohio’s 31st District, also spoke at the press conference, and is at the forefront of passing the bill to eliminate the tax on feminine hygiene products.
“This is not a Republican issue, not a Democratic issue, not an issue of men versus women, it’s about how do we make sure that people have the things they need,” Kelly said.
Kelly’s office introduced a bill that could potentially eliminate the current 6 percent sales tax on feminine hygiene products in the state of Ohio. The bill recently passed in the house, the furthest it has ever gotten. Kelly said she believes this has to do with the advocacy happening around the community.
Striving to end the stigma that being on your period should be a secret, Columbus City Council member Elizabeth Brown said she has made it her personal mission to provide free menstrual products — much like communal bathrooms provide free toilet paper.
Through her efforts in a separate pilot project, Brown was able to provide women with free menstrual products in all participating Columbus recreational centers. In lower income regions, the recreational centers have acted as a safe place for homeless people to receive these necessary products.
Anusha Singh, a second-year in neuroscience and president of PERIOD at Ohio State, said their organization will continue to fight for more changes at Ohio State.
“Period products are not a luxury,” she said, “they are a necessity.”