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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Free period products available in Student Health Center

Free pads and tampons have been availible in the Student Health Center’s lobby since fall 2019. PHOTO: LESLIE QUAN ’22/THE HAWK

University Student Senate (USS) is currently working on an initiative to provide free pads and tampons in bathrooms across campus.

Their goal is to have products available in all gender neutral bathrooms by spring 2020. Free liners and tampons have always been available in the Student Health Center bathroom and became available in the Health Center lobby in fall 2019.

Chris Gross ’20, health chair of USS, said USS is helping get the word out by creating flyers about the free products.

“We reached out to the Student Health Center about doing this and they already had a program that they had started except it was never actually published or put out there,” Gross said.

Eileen Bevilacqua, R.N., director of the Student Health Center and Kiersten White, assistant vice president of Student Life, were involved in the Health Center initiative to provide free tampons and liners in the health center bathroom.

“The Student Health Center has always supplied free tampons,” Bevilacqua said in an email to The Hawk. “They are available to students in the [Student Health Center] bathroom. [At] The beginning of the Fall 2019 semester the [Student Health Center] began offering free tampons and panty liners in the waiting room to any student in need.”

Asia Whittenberger ’22, another senator spearheading the USS initiative, said she got the idea to make menstrual products more accessible for students after attending the National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference in summer 2019. There she learned how students at St. Louis University created “Project Period.”

“If other colleges can do it, then we can do it too, we just have to care enough,” Whittenberger said.

Whittenberger believes making menstrual products accessible and free for those who need them is important because having a period is a natural bodily function.

“Accessibility across the board is so important,” Whittenberger said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a locational issue or an economic issue. It’s just like toilet paper. We need it to sustain our bodies.”

This initiative for free period products comes at a time when discussions about periods are happening on a national level. National Period Day, which was on Oct. 19, was created by PERIOD, a non-profit organization that advocates for menstrual equity, product accessibility and affordability.

Whittenberger happened to be in need of menstrual products while watching a movie on campus one day.

“The CID bathroom is always stocked with pads and tampons so I went there,” Whittenberger said. “There’s such a stigma around periods. I believe that’s also the reason why products like this aren’t put in bathrooms because no one wants to address it.”

The next steps in the initiative are to determine the supply and demand of the products in the Health Center. The USS has to figure out how to fund the products and establish how to stock and restock the products.

“We want to see up until winter break, what the supply and demand in the Health Center is,” Gross said. “We don’t want to withdraw our entire supply and stretch out too quickly, but we do want to build this out across the campus.”

This is only the start of the initiative and it may take much longer until everything is steady, according to Whittenberger.

“This isn’t an overnight process,” Whittenberger said. “It’s going to take a lot of work. It might take a few years before anything is stable and in place for sure but we are going to keep pushing for it.”

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