PERIOD at UTSA began when its founders realized the importance of having accessible menstrual products and the impacts of not having them in their local communities. Dedicated to ending period poverty, the founders established a chapter at UTSA in 2018. Since its creation, the organization continues to advocate for menstrual equity, to provide education in the hopes of ending stigma and serve the community by creating change and relief in areas of San Antonio with period poverty.
Yobana Soloranzo, co-president of PERIOD, explained why it is important to have a culture free of menstruation stigma and what that could mean for menstruators.
“We feel that it is important to break the stigma surrounding menstruation so that it may encourage menstruators to feel pride over shame for this bodily function,” Soloranzo said. “We believe that by normalizing menstruation we can foster a new culture where menstruators are not shunned for the natural processes they are undergoing. This new culture has the power to promote self-love along with body positive attitudes central to a menstruator’s overall wellbeing.”
Over the years, PERIOD has championed several accomplishments that attempt to end period stigma. For instance, before the pandemic, PERIOD provided free high-quality menstruation products in student bathrooms. Since the start of 2021, PERIOD has donated 3,029 pads, 903 tampons and 355 sanitary wipes.
Some of the organization’s largest challenges have been regrowing PERIOD and building a sense of community during the pandemic. In the past, the organization’s most popular meetings were packing parties, but there has been difficulty in gaining traction in virtual events.
“Because we have been virtual for the past year, and continue to be — with the exception of our one in-person packing party — we have faced challenges in coming up with creative ways to continue our advocacy, education and service,” Soloranzo said. “Luckily, we have reached out to our members and continue to create interesting educational meetings that pique our members’ interests.”
The move to virtual meetings hasn’t been a total disadvantage. Soloranzo explained that moving online has helped the organization branch into new educational topics. Most notably, the organization hosted educational workshops on the history of periods and how periods relate to a sustainable environment. Even though the organization’s most popular event — the packing parties —were put to a halt, officers continue to supply product donations.
Despite the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, the organization’s mission and goals for the semester remain the same.
“Through educational meetings, featuring guest speakers, and by successfully holding packing parties we hope to continue breaking the stigma surrounding menstruation,” Soloranzo said. “We will aim to connect to the local San Antonio community by invitation of speakers from the local area for an informational session on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The packing party, in collaboration with Womxn in Medicine, will also connect us to the community as we come together and make sanitary product packs for those who may need them. The educational meetings will integrate pop culture and general information to synthesize an interesting array of ideas helping to stimulate a conversation surrounding the bodily function of menstruation.”
For students who are interested in joining, Soloranzo mentioned that the organization is excited for new members who can participate in whatever capacity they can. The organization is excited to further the progression of the menstrual movement.
“We love to see new faces,” Soloranzo said. “Even if students can’t come to every meeting, we would like for them to stop by and see what PERIOD at UTSA is all about. At the end of the day our main goal is ending period poverty and we would love it if new members helped us in this menstrual movement.
Prospective members can reach the organization at their email, [email protected] and follow their Instagram, @period.utsa and Twitter, @PeriodUTSA.