If/When/How and AWLS Team Up for the Spring Menstrual Material Drive

The If/When/How student organization, formerly known as the Law Students for Reproductive Justice, and the Association of Women Law Students (AWLS) have teamed up with the American Constitution Society for another Menstrual Material Drive.

Beginning Feb. 19, the women’s restrooms had baskets of menstrual products available free of charge. This week, a donation box can be found in the Catherine Henson atrium of the law school for people to donate feminine products. If/When/How and AWLS hope that by pointing out the lack of convenient menstrual products in 85 Park Place will alert students to the importance of providing materials to those who are less privileged, and thus donate.

AWLS is a student organization concerned with the under representation and lack of parity of women in the legal profession. Members also focus on the importance of interaction and communication among women law students, attorneys and judges to promote and support women’s issues and needs in the field of law.
“Our goal is to create a culture of women helping and supporting other women, beginning in law school and continuing throughout our legal career,” said Emily Polk (J.D. ’18), AWLS president.
If/When/How is a national network of law students and professionals focusing on reproductive justice. The unusual name refers to “Because ensuring that all people have the right to decide if/when/how to create families depends entirely on if, when, and how hard we fight.” The organization operates with an awareness of how race, class, sex, age, ability, immigration status, and gender expression shape one’s reproductive options and destiny.

The College of Law chapter was dormant for the past few years. “With the revival of If/When/How this year, and members who serve in both organizations, it felt like the perfect time to join forces for the two groups’ common goals: serving the women and people with periods at Georgia State,” said Olivia Shellman (J.D. ’19), president of If/When/How.

After noticing that the College of Law doesn’t offer feminine products in the bathrooms, Shellman wanted to provide free materials for students, but after brainstorming with other AWLS members the idea evolved into a service project. In October, the two groups started placing baskets filled with sanitary napkins and tampons in the bathrooms, along with facts about menstrual cycles, hoping to inspire people to consider the importance of having access to menstrual products.

Last fall, Nicholas House received the donations. “We chose this organization because it specifically serves homeless families in the Atlanta area,” Shellman said. “We felt that this was a part of the community that could particularly benefit.”

“The drive worked! We were able to donate 24 boxes of menstrual materials (nearly 750 items!) to our target organization,” Shellman said. “It is the shared belief of If/When/How and AWLS that no person’s period should be a barrier to her learning or success. This concept applies to law students and people in the community alike, as an unexpected period could be the reason that an indigent person misses a job interview, or the reason a law student is late to an exam.”

The price is much higher for those who don’t have access to menstrual products. In addition to being linked to high rates of infections, women have been known to trade food stamps for tampons.

College of Law students embraced the drive. Some took photos of the baskets and posted them on Facebook, while others commented “YES! It was so cool to see this.” with a series of heart emojis.
“I’m donating for sure! This is so AWESOME!” and couponing tips for menstrual products, “Spoilers: you can get $0.99 pads at Kroger this week. ;)”.

“The menstrual product baskets were wonderful,” said Misty Gann (J.D. ’19), Student Bar Association president. “On a side note, for some strange reason, it made me feel closer to the women in our school. The baskets appeared, and I was like: ‘so, I guess I’m not the only one that has had this problem.'”
This spring, the products will be donated to the Partnership Against Domestic Violence. More information on the Spring Menstrual Materials Drive can be found on the event’s Facebook page.

Catherine Gavrilidis (J.D.’20) is a Graduate Research Assistant for Law Communications and she serves on the boards of the Association of Women Law Students and Phi Alpha Delta.

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