SLAC installs free dispensers in Colonia High bathrooms to promote menstrual equity


Photo Credit: Photo used with permission from SLAC's Instagram

The culmination of the SLAC Menstrual Equity Project: the first of two tampon & pad dispensers for Colonia High! More info to be announced soon! A special thank you to John Marbach and HOSPECO for the donation!

By: Rachelle Saerang, Editor

After years without menstrual products in the student bathrooms throughout the school, the Student Led Action Committee (SLAC) took the initiative to remedy the problem with the help of Period Partner. 

Period Problems  

Changing pads or tampons for students that experience periods during the school day is a burden. Students are expected to continue following the regular school instruction on their period with little to no remorse. They have to go to the nurse in case they don’t bring their own products. Some don’t feel comfortable walking a long way to the nurse and privacy isn’t apparent. Anastasia Paduli, a 17 year old Senior said that the first place she goes to isn’t the nurse. “I have a fear of the walk,” she says. Paduli goes to her friends instead like most girls do. 

According to Thinx, 69% of teens feel embarrassed to bring their own period products and 84% have missed school due to inaccessibility.

Located in the second floor English bathroom, the dispenser provides free menstrual products to teens. Because more teen girls use pads instead of tampons, their is a shortage of pads in the dispenser. (Photo Credit: The Declaration Staff)

SLAC at Colonia High

During some SLAC meetings, members brought up some complaints of their own experience having their periods in school. They realized this as an issue and began donation collections the last school year of 2021-2022. Their target remains the same: install dispensers and provide products for all students.

Mr. Long, the SLAC advisor, said that “the goal is to continue to try to make Colonia High more inclusive since the lack of these products are detrimental.”

SLAC will first begin a test run of the dispensers. For now, they are only available in the Business Wing and Language Wing girls’ bathrooms. The committee will send out a survey on the efficiency and satisfaction to students after a few months’ trial. Installing dispensers for more girls’ and gender-neutral bathrooms will come later.

Period Poverty  

Paduli said, “If we’re forced to go to school on our period, the school should fund what we need.”

Financial insecurity for period products can force students to stay home instead of attending school. This limits a student’s education and overall, makes them feel uncomfortable to be in school during their period. Period product companies are not shy to increase prices. According to Uthealthaustin, the average cost of a tampon box was $7 and a box of pads were $6 in 2019. In just three years, Omnicalculator says, the average cost jumped to $10 in 2022.

Oftentimes students cannot afford to buy these products every month. Expenses can build up when, according to Online Nursing, the average woman has 456 periods in a lifetime. This equals to 9,120 tampons which results in spending $1,773.33. On top of just tampons, those that have cycles need other period necessities which make it more expensive to have periods. This includes pads, Ibuprofen, panty liners, birth control, heating pads, acne medication for breakouts, and new underwear.

Mr. Long notes that eventually, the school should fund all period products.

Free menstrual products are now available at Colonia High in these locations: Nurse’s office, Counseling, Girls’ Locker room, Business wing bathroom and English wing bathroom. (Photo Credit: Photo used with permission from SLAC’s Instagram)

Period Partner of HOSPECO

HOSPECO is a manufacturer of cleaning products. Period Partner is their organization advocating for universal access to free period products in all public restrooms. Colonia High is working with Period Partner to provide dispensers for student bathrooms.

Period Partner is currently supplying thousands of menstrual product dispensers for public restrooms. Their goal in helping Colonia High is to improve student health, reduce absentee rates, promote focused learning, and help reduce the stigma around menstruation. HOSPECO says, “By talking openly about menstruation and menstrual equity, together, we can strive to address the challenges people face around access to menstrual hygiene products.”


Some worries are if students misuse the products or if they take too much than necessary. However, some students do need to take extra due to financial insecurity. All people with periods have a general understanding of the expense and significance of having menstrual products. So, misusing the dispensers shouldn’t be a main concern.

Although the newly installed dispensers have created a more comfortable environment in the bathrooms, refilling has been an issue. The dispensers can only be filled with a packaged product made specifically for the machine. So, all products that were donated and collected last year cannot be used in the dispensers. Instead, those products are in the Guidance Counseling Office.

SLAC is listening to students and Period Partner is joining the journey. Students should have access to menstrual necessities, if not, it risks their education and health. No student should have to worry if their period gets in their way of learning or coming to school.