If you’ve paid a visit to the Queer & Ally House recently or even just walked by it, you’ve probably noticed a set of shelves on the town-house’s porch holding an array of tantalizing treats and school supplies.
The shelf is part of an initiative spearheaded by Revie Atkinson (C’23), a co-director of the Q&A house, who came up with the idea after a Sewanee Spectrum meeting. Sewanee Spectrum is an organization that meets Tuesdays at 5 p.m. in Q&A and is dedicated to activism within the LGBTQ+ community at Sewanee.
At a recent meeting, “the topic of discussion was period equity week, and it got me thinking [about] why we only have a week dedicated to menstrual awareness and why Sewanee does not provide accurate resources for individuals who may menstruate,” Atkinson explained. “Gender is not tied to menstruation, meaning there may be many individuals who need menstrual products that cannot gain access to them for a variety of reasons. No matter how an individual chooses to identify, they deserve the right to have necessary health products they may need. I feel [that] if the institution of Sewanee as a whole is not willing to step up to provide free, needed resources for their students, it’s up to students who have the means to make these resources available, available for all. As co-director of Q&A, I was able to use my position to acquire the necessities for the shelf quite quickly and get it up and running!”
While the initiative was meant to offer support with menstruation specifically, it soon expanded to promote overall positive bodily health and mental health. “Along with that, I thought about materials other students may need such as school materials, snacks, meals, etc. and thus the shelf initiative was born!” Atkinson says, “I wanted to create a space for students to feel safe and welcome in getting things they may need or not have, which is why the shelf is located outside of Q&A — anyone can grab anything they may need!”
The Q&A House fully intends to continue driving the shelf initiative forward, hopefully by adding a clothing swap section where individuals can give and receive gender affirming clothes, an idea suggested by Georgia Austin (C’25), another member of Spectrum, though the idea has yet to come to fruition.
Be sure to stop by the Q&A House’s shelf whenever you feel you need it. Atkinson says, “My favorite thing about the shelf is when I see the good it does for others.”