“We are The Dot Org, an organization dedicated to reducing the stigma surrounding menstruation and providing greater access to menstrual hygiene products. We are passionate about our project, because as women who experience menstruation, we have seen the effects it can have on social and mental health. Through summer research, we also understand the effects menstruation has on those who experience homelessness. We began our project by collecting data about the multiple target populations within the geographical community with which we wished to study. We successfully conducted a focus group, interviews, a survey, and a literary review on the range of how menstruation can negatively affect the lives of those in Ann Arbor, as well as how the stigma surrounding menstruation originated. We learned that providing greater accessibility to menstrual products would improve the lives of members in our community, and decided to increase accessibility to free menstrual products in local businesses, schools, and homeless shelters. We partnered with businesses such as BlueLep, Study Hall Lounge, and SavCo, and collected data on products we provided them to show them that the products were worth providing if they were affordable to the business. After collecting data for Blue Lep and Study Lounge we found that tampons are used more frequently than pads and people really appreciated having the products there, even if they did not need them. We also worked with Hill House, Pease House, and MISSION to collect data on menstruators experiencing poverty and homelessness, and learned about their preferences and menstrual experiences. To reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation, we hosted two awareness events and hosted member meetings to talk about how the stigma can affect people’s lives. We also put free products in the Campus Library restroom with facts about menstruation attached.
In the end we found that people do want products in the bathrooms even if they themselves do not need it every time they are there. They like the message that is being sent and would like to see it more places. The economic impact on the companies implementing the distribution is low and would take very little effort to continue after the pilot and the benefits outweigh the costs.”
Check out their Capstone poster here!: the dot org poster
Gabby Morin, Sociology of Health and Medicine, Pre-dental, 2020
Nina Serr, Biology Health & Society, Entrepreneurship, 2020
Justine Burt, Business Administration, 2021
Mallory Demeter, Business Administration, 2021
With our grant money, we focused on a manageable goal for our greater project idea, and hosted a publicity event titled ‘The Period Party’. At this event, we spread the word of our soon to be established organization over the course of two days in the hall of Mason Hall. The event occurred on November 27th and 28th, and occured from 4-6 on both days. During this event, we distributed 500 stickers/small flyers, 100 cupcakes, and many bags of candies. Then, we started conversations with the students and teachers who wanted the food and stickers. We answered a lot of questions about the reality of the menstrual stigma, and had interesting conversations with students and teachers who were mostly supportive of our cause. This event was important to further our success, because it spread awareness of an issue that many do not understand or care about. Through these conversations, we ended up getting contact information from about 20 people interested in joining our cause, as well as many follows and likes on our social media pages. The food and decorations we bought with the grant money was what attracted people to our area in the hall, and allowed us to start conversations about our issue.
Out of all the BLI habits existing, the ones we used the most were ‘Start Small’, ‘Engage the World’, and ‘Expect Challenges’. ‘Start Small’ influenced how we began defining how our team could succeed by the end of Leadership Lab. We recognized that we needed to start with smaller goals to accomplish, instead of big ones. The Period Party event was a tangible goal for Leadership Lab, and was a great way to start conversations on campus about the problem we address as well as the existence of our group. The second habit we used was ‘Engage the World.’ We contacted representatives from other student groups such as the American Association of University Women and Greek Life as well as our peers and asked for feedback on whether people would be willing to contribute to our cause in the future, and also if people supported our cause in general.
Our Period Party event allowed us to engage with students and professors and discuss the issue and how we plan to make a change with our organization. The third habit we used was ‘Expect Challenges’. In general, we always created a backup plan in case our ideal goals were not possible. We knew it would be hard to successfully plan and complete a drive before the end of the BLI section, but we had our Period Party publicity event as a backup idea. As a group, we learned the importance of creating alternate strategies.
By: Marisela Angulo, Justine Burt, Mallory Dementer, Gabby Morin, and Nina Serr