Ann Arbor to require menstrual products in bathrooms; no plan to do so in East Lansing

Ann Arbor made national history on Nov. 18 becoming the first city in the United States to require menstrual products in public restrooms. An ordinance approved unanimously by the Ann Arbor City Council, mandates that menstrual pads and tampons, along with the already required soap and toilet paper, must be provided for free in all public restrooms.

Mason approves park and trail millage

Approval of a 1-mill, five-year tax increase means Mason can move forward with its parks plan. City Manager Deborah Stuart said projects will be selected from the Parks, Recreation and Non-motorized Plan. The city developed the plan with community engagement and feedback almost two years ago with community input. Stuart said one of the first projects will be replacing the Rayner Park playground.

Mason taskforce hopes to increase DEI awareness in community

In March 2021, a group of Mason community members banded together in response to the use of the controversial topics policy in the Mason School District. Creating The Equity Taskforce, the group hopes to educate the community about diversity, equity and inclusion topics. 

Katelyne Thomas, a co-founder of The Equity Taskforce, resigned from Mason Public Schools after her proposal to teach Black Lives Matter at Schools curriculum during Black History Month was denied. After her resignation, a small group of community members led by Rhiannon Klein reached out to Thomas, and The Equity Taskforce was born. 

The Taskforce has four executive committee members. Thomas said it has 200-300 members within the community and anywhere from 60 to 100 active members at events. 

“Right now, we’re working a lot on just educating our community and taking a DEI focus on everything,” Thomas said. 

In addition to the executive and general members, the taskforce has two consultants. One, Randy Watkins, is vice president of the Lansing NAACP branch.

Mason School Board reverses, relaxes Controversial Topics policy

The Mason School Board reverses its policy on controversial topics Oct. 11, allowing employees to express their personal opinions as long as students are encouraged to reach independent decisions. The motion passed 5-2, with Michael Kelly and Patrick O’Connor voting against. 

Treasurer Steve Duane said this change takes away the question of what is and is not OK for teachers. 

“We don’t want the policy to be so restrictive that it creates questions, it creates doubt, in the minds of teachers,” Duane said.  

Policy 2240 originates from Neola, an organization that helps schools create board policies. This policy provides guidance for the instruction and discussion of controversial topics in school. 

Board secretary Liz Evans said the discussion stemmed from an individual situation, and the policy’s use is not common in the district. 

“The reality is it has not been an issue,” Evans said. “It’s in place so that teachers know what their boundaries are, parents know what teachers’ boundaries are.”

At the start of the meeting, a public comment was made in regards to Policy 2240.

Absentee voting increases Mason turnout

Absentee voting might increase voter turnout in Mason’s November election, says Clerk Sarah Jarvis. On Nov. 2, residents of Mason will vote on the Park, Trailway, and Pathway Millage proposal. Jarvis said absentee voting boosts turnout for smaller elections, such as this. The City of Mason has a Permanent Absent Voter List, which allows people to automatically receive absentee ballot applications for every election.