Women’s Center provides free menstrual products

Free menstrual products are now available at Minnesota State.

The Women’s Center has aided in making this possible. BriShaun Kearns, a graduate student in Gender & Women’s Studies and staff member at the Women’s Center, explained the concept that brought this project to fruition.

“The reality is that half of the world’s population has a period. Like, statistically, it is super, super likely that at some point someone is going to be on campus and have their period,” Kearns said. “One of the problems that was noticed was that students were having difficulty accessing period products. So often, they weren’t able to afford it because often students aren’t working full-time jobs, aren’t making extra income, they often come from low-income backgrounds. And then the only access they have to an income is campus work, which often allows only like 20 hours a week. Sometimes you get caught off guard, and your period starts. And you don’t realize it was happening.”

In the past, there has been coin-operated access to menstrual products in women’s restrooms on campus.

“But how many of us carry coins on us?” Kearns said.

In 2021, student advocates approached Liz Steinborn-Gourley, director of the Women’s Center, to discuss the problem of lack of access to menstrual products. The Women’s Center worked with the Student Government to create a remedy. Both entities managed to successfully petition the university.

“There is also a legislation that says that there has to be access to menstrual products in educational public spaces. So that also means that high schools too have it, but that was something that wasn’t really happening here” Kearns said. “And it’s something that should be built into student fees. It’s something that now it is, and now it’s not an extra burden on students.”

The coin-operated systems now freely turn, allowing students to grab as many menstrual products as they need. Menstrual products are also available at the Women’s Center.

“We also have free, reusable menstrual products. We have menstrual cups. We’ll often talk to people if they have never used a cup before or reusable pads,” Kearns said. “Especially those who I’ve noticed have really, really heavy periods, this can be helpful because you aren’t spending so much money constantly on disposable pads. They also have reusable, period underwear.”

Having reusable menstrual products helps students who are concerned about expense or the effect on the environment. It means a lot for the Women’s Center to provide these products.

“The word I use to talk about this a lot is ‘period poverty.’ Like, effectively, if you do not have access to the period products, you are unable to continue to live a normal life and access school,” Kearns said. “So, that is a huge thing that I think of in terms of if you want students to come to school, if you want students to do well, and accomplish their goals, and finish, and graduate. You need to be able to set them up for their best, and this is one of those things.”

The Women’s Center uses a portion of its budget to provide the menstrual products. Various members of the Minnesota State community have also donated supplies. The feedback from students who take advantage of these products has been positive.

“Mostly just excitement and thank-yous. And we get a lot of positive feedback in terms of having products that students have never heard of,” Kearns said. “Some constructive feedback is having more consistent access.”

Kearns encouraged students that are interested in what the Women’s Center has to offer to check out CSU 218 or email

Header photo: The Women’s Center has free menstrual products outside of their office in the upper level of the Centennial Student Union in Minnesota State’s campus. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)

Write to Tracy Swartzendruber at

One thought on “Women’s Center provides free menstrual products

  • danielsebold

    It is heartening to hear that the Women’s Center is providing women’s reusable menstrual products for MSU students still stuck in full and part time jobs after all these years. I will sometimes come across women’s centers on my bicycle rides around rural Cambodia that will provide menstrual products for Cambodian women. There is one up on the northwest side of the Angkor Archaeological Park which I have taken a photo of which I can send to you if you want it. I now have eighty-five thousand photos of the Angkor Park and some of them are of the women workers who walk around the park picking up trash, or they will work as ticket punchers at any of the thirty odd temple sites. Many live in the park and they also ride bicycles and have their silly little children with them scampering about the jungle as they work.

    I noticed, also, on a You Tube show, Redacted, that the Ukrainians will be drafting women for the war against the Russians. Now I feel bad for all my radical feminism of being a proponent of women in combat. (I am a ’91 Gulf War vet and don’t particularly want to see women added to the crimes that I participated in on the Battleship Wisconsin of having targeted the water filtration plants in Bosra, Iraq which was civilian infrastructure, thereby making me a terrorist for America.)

    When I was a Black Sea sailor in the US Navy back in the late eighties, after crashing about on the high seas with Russian Krivaks–hey, I, too, have sailed to Byzantium–we would pull into port in Sevastopol, Crimea which has a Russian base with over twenty thousand men. I had a chance to meet a lot of Russian Ukrainian women who would talk to me about their Russian Ukrainian boyfriends and menstrual products that they bought in town. They told me they were of high quality.

    So the Russians really didn’t have to invade the Crimea since they already had a base there on a bilateral agreement. The Russians just had to send a lot more soldiers to secure the island because the Ukraine had backed out of the Minks Accords in 2014, a cease fire for a civil war of genocide in the Donbas against the Russian Ukrainian minority population. They are the “Banderites” of Ukrainian national hero, Stepan Bandera fame, who has a boulevard named after him in Kiev leading up to Babi Yar where he helped Hitler murder Jews, Poles, and Hungarians (It would be as if the US government decided to kill off our Mexican American population down in Texas.)

    Over four hundred thousand Ukrainian men have died needlessly in this war after four failed counter offenses in southeastern Ukraine all because Anthony Blinken wanted to “hurt Russia” for being friends with China. Shouldn’t they be teaching about this in our MBA macroeconomic courses–how neoliberal style capitalism relies on endless wars rather than on market competition?


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