News, University News

UCS changes supplier for ‘Project Tampon’

Following student concerns over company’s name, branding, UCS will change tampon supplier

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

UCS President Chelse-Amoy Steele ’18 and Vice President Naveen Srinivasan ’19 discussed the council’s switch of tampon distributors after student complaints about the branding of the company Tampon Tribe.

The Undergraduate Council of Students’ “Project Tampon” will cease to source tampons and pads from the company Tampon Tribe after students raised concerns over the company’s name and branding, UCS president Chelse-Amoy Steele ’18 wrote in an email to the undergraduate community Tuesday. The change came less than 12 hours after Steele announced the supplier to the undergraduates in a different email.

In the UCS general body meeting Wednesday night, Steele explained the change to UCS general body members and held a conversation about the impacts of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at Brown and about student protests of speakers who have visited campus.

Steele, who worked on finding a new tampon supplier over the summer with UCS Vice President Naveen Srinivasan ’19, said that “there were some students who were particularly concerned, especially coming from the Native community at Brown, about not only the name (of Tampon Tribe), but some of the branding as well.”

Steele said that a few students from the community reached out with issues, and the intensity of their concerns pushed Steele and Srinivasan to act. “Individual students who told us they were indigenous and Native Americans (said) that this was something that affected them really deeply, and so we knew this was something we had to respond to immediately,” she told The Herald. “The name itself really led them to have a lot of concerns about us working with a company that could be appropriating cultures.”

Instead, the council will source the sanitary products from Boxed, an online retail company and the company used last year for Project Tampon, Steele told The Herald.

Steele told UCS members that she and Srinivasan had concerns about Tampon Tribe’s name over the summer when they first considered the company. Their initial concerns about the group’s name prompted them to reach out to the company’s representative, who assured them that there were leaders in the company that held Afro-diasporic and indigenous identities, Steele said.

Steele said in the UCS general body meeting that “we were able to reclaim funding from Tampon Tribe, but negotiations are still going through on that.”

But Steele made sure to affirm her commitment to the initiative.“Either way it’s going to go through,” Steele told The Herald. “We will find a way to source the funding.”

Distribution of the products, which was slated to begin Wednesday, will continue as planned, using products left over from last year’s supply until Sunday. After Sunday, new shipments of tampons and pads should arrive that will be used moving forward, Steele said.

“I really wish we were able to dive in more to the branding of the company and to the PR they’ve been doing on social media,” Steele told The Herald. “Had we done that earlier, we would have made different decisions.”

The group then had a conversation about the effects of President Trump’s move to end DACA on students.

General body members expressed concern at the effects on students, but members also sought more clarification as to what the University is doing to address the issue.

The council then discussed student protests on campus directed at visiting speakers, including the canceled 2013 speech by Raymond Kelly, former New York Police Department Commissioner who had “staunch support for the contentious stop-and-frisk policy,” The Herald previously reported.

Srinivasan, for example, asked the group to consider the defined difference between peaceful and violent protests. “Where is the distinction between what is a peaceful protest or not?” he said. “Who is responsible for informing students of these policies?”

Alex Song ’20, UCS treasurer, raised questions about the limits to hate speech by visiting speakers. “If (speakers) don’t directly attack someone, where is the line drawn?”