Vice President for Student Allocations for the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, Harsna Chahal, played a critical role in the recent passing of a bill within the East Lansing City Council, putting into law that all East Lansing public bathrooms will dispense free menstrual hygiene products.
The bill, coming in the wake of the recent passing of a similar law in Ann Arbor, making the city the first in the US to have such a policy, and Gov. Whitmer’s elimination of the “Tampon Tax”, removing sales tax from menstrual hygiene products, throughout the state of Michigan, was passed into law in early February.
While supplies are not yet readily available in all East Lansing public bathrooms, ASMSU reports that officials are working to make the complimentary products available soon.
“The support from East Lansing, and how everyone spoke so highly of the ordinance, I can see this happening very quickly.” Chahal said.
Chahal, who has previously worked in menstrual activism within ASMSU in the spring semester of 2020 through her effort in advocating for the elimination of sales tax for menstrual products, began working on the free menstrual product bill in fall of 2021, when she mentioned the idea with members of the East Lansing city council at an informal gathering.
After receiving positive feedback on the idea, and having it approved to be brought up in a vote in city council, Chahal moved to seek approval from ASMSU to advocate on behalf of the organization for the passing of bill 58-41, which was passed in the Dec. 2 General Assembly meeting.
“Resolved, The Associated Students of Michigan State University shall advocate that the City of East Lansing passes an ordinance to provide free menstrual hygiene products in every public restroom in East Lansing.” the bill reads.
After deliberation on behalf of the East Lansing City Council, including public advocacy from ASMSU representatives in accordance with bill 58-41, the law was passed in December, and is currently in the process of being enacted.
Chahal, and by extension ASMSU, are seeking to continue their advocacy for this cause by advocating for similar laws to be passed in the cities of the greater MSU community, such as Lansing and Okemos, through bill 58-68.
Through the passing of this bill at the Feb. 17 ASMSU general assembly meeting, ASMSU will officially advocate for this cause. Additionally, members of ASMSU hope to expand the availability of free menstrual products even further through other activism.
“Now we’re expanding the reach of our advocacy to the greater Lansing area because a lot of students live in Lansing and Okemos ... we want to try and make our advocacy a little bit broader than just East Lansing, and just East Lansing city-owned restrooms,” ASMSU Vice President for Government Affairs and co-author of bill 58-68 said.
For more information about free menstrual products in the East Lansing area, contact a representative of the East Lansing City Council, or contact ASMSU through their website www.asmsu.msu.edu.
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