When two Osakis 10th grade students started a research project for an assignment in English, they didn’t realize they would end up being advocates for free feminine products for their peers.

Madison Douvier and Kayla Kulzer are now on a mission to not only update feminine product dispensers in the locker rooms and bathrooms throughout the school, they are a mission to make sure those products – tampons and pads – are free.

The students said it is a topic that is often overlooked and one that is a bigger deal than people may think.

“Girls care about this,” said Kulzer. “Which is why we are bringing attention to it.”

The machines in the bathrooms and locker rooms are old, rusted and some don’t work, they said. And products cost a quarter, which the girls said doesn’t make sense because nobody carries a quarter with them.

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The girls, however, did stock up on quarters as they tried out every single machine throughout the school as part of their research. They found out many of them didn’t work.

This is an example of a feminine product dispenser that is in the Osakis School District. Two students, Kayla Kulzer and Madison Douvier, are trying to get new options for students that would allow students to get free products. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)
This is an example of a feminine product dispenser that is in the Osakis School District. Two students, Kayla Kulzer and Madison Douvier, are trying to get new options for students that would allow students to get free products. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)

They also found out that free feminine products are offered in schools in only five states throughout the entire United States, which they said is unbelievable.

Female students in Osakis can walk down to the nurse's office if they need to get products, said Douvier, and she added that those products are offered for free.

However, she said that is not always convenient, especially if a student was not anywhere close to the nurse's office and needed something quickly.

“For some girls, it is an awkward topic and having to go into the nurse's office to ask for those products would be embarrassing,” she said.

Douvier and Kulzer have discussed the topic with the school nurse, Angie Baker, as well as Randy Bergquist, superintendent. Baker provided them with a catalog showing the different, more up-to-date options that are available and Bergquist talked with them about the costs. He said there could be grants available to help cover any costs.

Osakis students Kayla Kulzer (left) and Madison Douvier, both sophomores, look at a product catalog with Superintendent Randy Bergquist. They were pointing out options for feminine product dispensers that are more up-to-date than what the school currently has. The students want options that would dispense products for free. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)
Osakis students Kayla Kulzer (left) and Madison Douvier, both sophomores, look at a product catalog with Superintendent Randy Bergquist. They were pointing out options for feminine product dispensers that are more up-to-date than what the school currently has. The students want options that would dispense products for free. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)

The two sophomores also conducted their own survey by sending out questions to their peers.

They asked if students think the feminine dispensers need to be updated and 84.1% of the 44 respondents said yes. They also asked, “Have you ever used the feminine dispensers” and 95.5% of the 44 respondents said no. Another question was, “If we advocated and got free products, would you respect the fact that they are there and not misuse/overuse them?” and 93.2% of the 44 respondents said yes.

The students were also asked if it was an inconvenience to go to the school nurse and 84.1% of the 44 respondents said yes. And 75% of the 44 respondents said yes when asked, “Have you ever had a time when you did not have a period product in school?” Lastly, of the 44 responses, 18.2% said there have been times there were unable to afford feminine products.

The results of their survey was as of Monday, March 22. At that time, the survey was still open for students to fill out.

At the suggestion of their English teacher, Chris Hunter, the next step is for Douvier and Kulzer to make a presentation to the school board. A date has not yet been determined for when that will take place.