Vandalism disrupts Kane’s efforts to distribute menstrual products

Katie Lew, Photo Editor

Amelia Kane (10) supplies bin with menstrual products from the Nurse’s office. Because of vandalism, Kane no longer distributes these products to school restrooms. Photo by Katie Lew.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the ​​Menstrual Equity For All Act of 2021 that would require California public schools to stock their restrooms with free menstrual products, Oct. 8.

When Amelia Kane (10) first learned of this, she inquired about the law to Principal Tina Ziegler, who said that Westview would enforce this law in the following school year of 2022-2023.

“I felt like there wasn’t really a difference in the demand for menstrual products next year versus now so I decided to get a head start,” Kane said. “I’ve even had a few personal experiences where I needed menstrual products [at school] so I had a thought that there should be menstrual products in the bathrooms for everybody.”

Though Kane wanted to begin this pursuit after her initial conversation with Ziegler, the process of getting her plan approved took longer than Kane expected.

The first step was bringing her idea up in ASB’s business meetings.

“When we do things in ASB, they don’t always just happen right away so I brought it up in one business meeting, and then the next one, and then the next one,” Kane said. “To get things done, you have to repeatedly ask.”

When Kane finally got the green light to proceed, she had to figure out where the products would come from and how she would distribute them.

“I went to the Dollar Tree and found little bins for a dollar each,” Kane said. “I counted all the bathrooms to know how many bins I needed. Every Monday and Wednesday, I would go around school, refill each bin, and then put them back.”

The funds for Kane’s products came from the Health Department. However, it was not in the budget since Kane’s project initially was a trial run, so money began to run low.

“I want [menstrual toiletries] to be free,” Kane said. “Instead of me providing them, I want the school to provide them, exactly like how they provide toilet paper for free. In any public space, I believe there should be a way for you to acquire menstrual products. I believe it is everybody’s right to feel comfortable, and so if putting menstrual products in the bathroom is going to help that happen, I don’t mind walking around campus every Monday and Wednesday.”

Kane’s initial intention drive to lead this project was to improve the lives of Westview students.

Yet, Kane said that the overwhelmingly positive responses to the initiatives that she received from her fellow schoolmates were what kept the fire fueled in her motivation to continue this project.

“I wanted [Westview students] to feel like their school cares about them and that ASB cares about them,” Kane said. “The first week was a trial test to see how they do and I got an unbelievable amount of thanks and people who were grateful for it, which really kept me going.”

According to Kane, she has built connections with people as she went to refill the baskets. Some even called out to her and thanked her.

“I’ve had people fill the basket with their own hygiene products instead of just taking them out,” Kane said. “It was really amazing. I was left smiling for the rest of the day.”

It has been around a month since Kane first placed the baskets all over campus, providing a comfortable space for students to have easy access to menstrual products. Since then, Kane has cultivated an incredible sense of community.

“I know they aren’t the most amazing products, but they are still something and they are still an effort,” Kane said.

However, recent acts of vandalism, including the tampering and wasting the hygienic toiletries have left Kane feeling dispirited.

“We’ve had people putting them into toilets and putting them onto mirrors,” Kane said. “After the first bathroom, it spiraled all of a sudden, [the vandalism] spreading to the other bathrooms.”

The seriousness of the vandalism eventually forced the administration to request the removal of the menstrual products from the restrooms.

“Now, you can only access the products in the Nurse’s office,” Kane said. “I was asked to take them down and put them away so that’s why there aren’t any more products in the foreseeable future. My idea to help combat [the vandalism] is to make the bathrooms nicer like putting in better soap because you are not going to destroy something you like.”

While Kane said she has plans to overcome the obstacles presented as of recently, she can’t help but feel disheartened.

“I’m going to work hard to figure out a way to get them back but it’s truly just disappointing seeing how much work I put into this project and how many people need it, just for one or two people to destroy it,” Kane said.