During our “Identify” week we worked to understand further understand our users, stakeholders, and overall experience of accessing menstrual products on campus. This process began by breaking down our project’s question of: How Can We increase accessibility to period products for menstruating people on Rice’s campus? We began our session by coming up with key questions and guidelines we wanted to further understand about our project, including: increase by how much/how do we measure success; Does ‘people on Rice’s campus’ just mean undergrads, and where on rice campus should we be focusing? From these more broad questions, we began to specify different aspects of the project including identifying users, stakeholders, and project assumptions.
Some of our key insights included defining access (locations) and barriers: some of our locations identified included, the Rice Bookstore, the RWRC, and bathroom dispensers. Meanwhile, some of our barriers in accessibility identified were: financial, low-supply, the ease of repetitive use, and stigma both financial and related to menstruation (could influence situational access). In addition to access itself, we wondered if free/financially accessible products’ quality matched that of products that one would buy for themselves? From our access and barriers identified, it is interesting to see some of the assumptions we looked at, gendered women’s bathrooms need products more than men’s restrooms do, periods are variable in terms of pain, frequency, health etc, default to thinking menstruating people means women, using feminine language, and that our focus is bathrooms. In identifying our users, we were intentional to reflect gender-inclusivity as well as recognizing non-undergraduate students.
Ultimately, our Identify week was incredibly productive in terms of giving us a jumpstart on our project and allowing us to reflect and explore topics that we hadn’t considered previously.