University of Michigan: Abide by Ann Arbor's Ordinance to Require Free Menstrual Products

University of Michigan: Abide by Ann Arbor's Ordinance to Require Free Menstrual Products

1,077 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!
Petition to
University of Michigan Administration

Why this petition matters

Started by The Dot Org

The City Council of Ann Arbor just passed an ordinance that will require menstrual and sanitary products (i.e. tampons, pads, toilet paper, soap) to be freely provided in all public restrooms, including those in private businesses. Ann Arbor is the first U.S. city to enact this policy, making headlines on CNN, NPR and more. Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor stated this ordinance “is a necessity and a long time coming," and that “access to these items is a matter of personal dignity, a human necessity and a health care right.” 

Despite the unanimous celebration of the new ordinance by citizens, UofM, which has thousands of public restrooms across the city, is undecided on whether or not they will abide by the ordinance, according to University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald attributed their indecision to the need for more information on demand and operational costs, which is supposedly being determined by a “pilot program” launched this past August. 

First, as Mayor Taylor declared, affordable and accessible menstrual products are critical to a person’s ability to lead their everyday lives. Individuals who menstruate will spend about $1,773.33 purchasing products over the course of their lifetimes; over the course of four years, the individual person who menstruates will spend about $186.67 on menstrual hygiene products. If the University of Michigan fails to abide by the ordinance, thousands of public restrooms — including dormitories — will lack these essential items. Many individuals across the University of Michigan campus will suffer from the effects of not having access to affordable menstrual products. 

Second, UofM has been initiating “pilot programs” for almost five years. Women’s Organization on Rights to Health (WORTH)’s 2017 UofM free menstrual product initiative in collaboration with the Division of Student Life found students using approximately 590 products each week when they were placed in four high-traffic restrooms around campus. In 2018, The Dot Org conducted student research and found that 50% of respondents feel that menstrual products are a financial burden, and 86% of respondents find themselves in a menstrual emergency at least once a cycle. Clearly, data has shown that there is a need for free menstrual products in UofM bathrooms, and that these programs are successful in alleviating period poverty — which has the ability to infringe upon all aspects of a person’s everyday life. 

Third, the University of Michigan is a leader in almost every field and discipline, paving a path of excellence in research, social justice, and global advancement. However, in the realm of access to such a necessity as menstrual products, UofM drops the ball. UofM has more than enough funding in their budget to support this measure. According to WORTH’s 2017 data, providing free menstrual products in every restroom across campus for four semesters would cost $169,127 — that’s only 0.041% of the Michigan Athletics budget for just concessions and parking (in the fiscal year of 2017). For years, student advocates have been demanding change from UofM. Now, the city, which was universally applauded for its decision, is also demanding it. Why can’t UofM make the decision that supports their commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

Together, we urge the University of Michigan to abide by the Ann Arbor ordinance to provide menstrual and sanitary products in all public restrooms. It is not only a matter of health and safety, but a matter of equity. “The ultimate efficacy of this ordinance is dependent on the ubiquity of menstrual products for all members of our community,” said Ann Arbor Council Member Julie Grand to MLive. “If the university is serious about equity and leadership, becoming an enthusiastic partner in this effort should be a simple decision.”

We ask the University of Michigan to finally prioritize the needs of students who menstruate to allow us to lead healthy, productive lives on this campus, furthering gender and health equity and standing as a role model for other institutions across the nation and the globe. 

If the University of Michigan hopes to produce the leaders and the best in the nation, this must start on campus and be shown in their own actions. Please sign to demonstrate your support for the provision of free menstrual products in all University of Michigan restrooms, in compliance with the Ann Arbor ordinance, in order to help alleviate period poverty and its consequences on campus. 

This petition was created by The Dot Org, a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating the stigma surrounding menstruation and making menstrual products more accessible in Washtenaw County. 

1,077 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!