Eastern Michigan University launches new initiative to provide free organic menstrual products across campus

Changing the Cycle logo on a background pattern of menstrual products.

YPSILANTI – One in 10 women in college are unable to afford period products, according to EMU Changing the Cycle, a new initiative at Eastern Michigan University. EMU Changing the Cycle is on a mission to end period poverty - inadequate access to menstrual hygiene supplies and education - on campus by ensuring that everyone at EMU has access to free organic period products when they need them.  

Each year, students who are enrolled in EMU’s bachelor of social work program are encouraged to become interns and to take on projects that interest them through Swoop’s Food Pantry, whose mission is to provide the EMU community with food assistance and additional resources to positively impact well-being and college success.

After noticing that menstrual product dispensers were non-existent across EMU’s campus, Swoop’s Food Pantry interns Talecia Avery, Michaela Foster, and Roya Herrle banded together to create EMU Changing the Cycle, a pilot program to install free menstrual product dispensers in all buildings. The interns partnered with The Women's Resource Center, EMU Student Government, and a Social Work Service Learning class to obtain funding and materials. The students also received support from Aunt Flow, a resource committed to ensuring everyone has access to menstrual products.

“We are encouraged by the support from the campus community, including EMU’s Student Government and the administration,” said Julie Harkema, Swoop's Food Pantry Faculty Advisor. “With that support as well as how easy it was to work with Aunt Flow, the project moved ahead quickly and it's gratifying to see students create solutions to address unseen barriers and be successful in helping their peers.”

Today, EMU’s campus now has 20 Aunt Flow dispensers with more than 1,000 free products. The dispensers are located in the following locations:

  • The Commons - gender-neutral bathroom (across from dish drop-off)

  • Convocation Center - ground-floor women's bathroom (near the front entrance)

  • Marshall Building - second-floor gender-neutral bathroom (Northwest Entrance across from recycling)

  • Rackham - second-floor gender-neutral bathroom, room 216

  • Sill - second-floor gender-neutral bathroom, room 200d

  • Strong - second-floor gender-neutral bathroom, room 132

  • Student Center - second-floor gender-neutral bathroom (across from The Market)

EMU Changing the Cycle plans to have dispensers in every building on campus. The program is funded by EMU Student Government, donors and sponsors and is coordinated by the Women's Resource Center, Swoop’s Food Pantry, the School of Social Work, the University Grounds and Custodial Services Office, and President Smith's Office.

“I feel so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to stay with EMU Changing the Cycle as the Student Project Manager after my service-learning class ended,” said Janelle Polasek, EMU Changing the Cycle Student Project Manager. “It has been amazing to see this initiative grow and be enthusiastically supported by the campus community, with so much momentum toward ending period poverty locally and at the state level. It's exciting to be a part of the movement.”

To learn more about becoming a donor or volunteer, visit Eastern’s Changing the Cycle website, or email jharkema@emich.edu for more information.

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

March 09, 2022

Written by:
Brittany Mobley

Brittany Mobley