OSU to host Menstrual Hygiene Week
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Oklahoma State University is celebrating Women’s History Month with an abundance of events geared toward celebrating women’s contributions throughout history and promoting education on women’s issues. As part of this month-long celebration, the Red Pantry Committee is presenting a full week of interactive, educational experiences in the first ever Menstrual Hygiene Week at OSU.
Founded in spring 2020 as a subcommittee of the Student Government Association, the Red Pantry Committee was created to combat period poverty on the OSU Campus and Stillwater community. Period poverty is the inaccessibility to menstrual hygiene products or education about menstruation, said Red Pantry founder and director Seraiah Coe. She said it can affect an individual's entire health and educational capacity with one in five students in the U.S. having to miss school. The subcommittee created Menstrual Hygiene Week to spark meaningful conversations and provide education about menstruation and resources available through Red Pantry.
“Because of a lack of education or supplies, individuals can get infections or have to miss work or school, which leads to a chain reaction of events, affecting financial situations, mental health and educational capacity,” Coe said. “We want to bring up this topic to combat that.”
The week is filled with educational events such as Zoom trivia night, an art competition with scholarship prize money and a Zoom conversation with Dr. Anne Kuhlmann, associate professor of behavioral science and health education in the College for Public Health. Kuhlmann also serves as board director for Dignity Period, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping girls stay in school by providing menstrual education and supplies.
On April 1, the pantry will be tabling at the Student Union to promote the new pantries open on campus, all stocked with diverse options of free hygiene products. These pantries are located at the laundry facility next to the Family Resource Center, in Room 211P in the Student Union and by request at Our Daily Bread.
Irissa Baxter-Luper, Coordinator of Women's and LGBTQ Affairs and Red Pantry co-adviser, said the week and the free pantries are ways to support students in all of their needs, educational and otherwise.
“It’s really just a wonderful initiative to make sure we’re supporting the OSU and Stillwater community as holistically as we can,” Baxter-Luper said. “I think oftentimes in those movements of support like clothing and food drives, we might forget or accidentally omit menstrual products as essential needs, too. That’s where Red Pantry comes in to support every person who menstruates and needs those items.”
Red Pantry has included a voluntary survey attached to flyers on campus or near the pantries. Coe said the goal is to collect anonymous data to pass off to a faculty member for further study on college students to better combat period poverty. A senior graduating in May 2022, she said she’s excited to see Red Pantry continue to grow.
“When I was a freshman, I felt really aimless,” Coe said. “I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to make a really big impact. One of my professors told me that I didn't have to change the world all at once, but I could make a positive impact in my little corner of the community, and that would change someone’s world. That’s what we’re doing with Red Pantry.”
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|Red Pantry Locations||
• Laundry facility next to the Family Resource Center
• Room 211P in the Student Union
• Our Daily Bread (by request)
Story by: Kylee Sutherland
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