President of Period@UM Maggie Walker, a senior Public Policy Leadership and integrated marketing communications major, described the importance of education and the motivation behind this event.
“We, as a collective organization, think education is so important because so often women are not aware of what is going on with their bodies physiologically during menstruation,” Walker said. “We wanted to hold this forum to provide an opportunity for all gendered students to be able to learn about menstruation from a qualified source and have the chance to ask questions about periods, birth control and other things in a safe space.”
Walker, who credited Chandler Cohn, education chair for Period@UM, as the force behind the forum, hopes such events will help people better understand women’s health.
“By having free events open to the community, we hope to allow women and men to expand their minds around the topic of women’s health and menstruation. These conversations help educate women around their bodies, destigmatize menstruation in general and raise awareness around period poverty,” Walker said.
To continue supporting women’s health, Walker said the university could host university-sanctioned sessions for women to ask healthcare professionals questions without the task of scheduling a formal doctor’s appointment. She said the university also could promote discourse with women while increasing accessibility to women’s health counseling, resources and safe spaces.
Walker also acknowledged ways that the university has supported the cause.
“The university has been immensely helpful in supporting Period@UM’s initiatives thus far. Most notably, in partnership with Dr. Holland’s PPL leadership class last semester, we asked the university to help fund and manage menstrual product dispensers in major restrooms across campus. They were incredibly receptive to our proposal, and pledged significant financial commitments. Dispensers will be installed through a ‘pilot program’ in numerous on-campus restrooms soon. We are thankful that when we ask for support and help, the university is typically quick to assist,” Walker said.
Walker acknowledged other groups and departments on campus that were supportive of Period@UM’s, including the veterans center, the health center and the honors college.
Period@UM will continue to provide support for students.
“In the future, we will continue promoting these pillars to make a difference for all menstruators at UM. For education specifically, we are working to promote menstrual health on our Instagram through mini-info series. In addition, we are going to be tabling to raise awareness around period poverty. We will continue to make menstrual products free in on-campus restrooms, promote sustainable menstruation and conduct campus-wide donation drives to serve the Oxford community beyond Ole Miss,” Walker said.