“You Matter… Period” is a pilot program to provide free tampons and pads in 33 All Gender restrooms on the Colorado State University campus. The pilot, which will continue through fall 2017, is an initiative from the Division of Student Affairs designed to support employee and student success on campus.
Commissioned by Vice President for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes, a campus task force began researching the need, opportunities, and options for providing free period products on campus last fall. Task force members represent Associated Students of Colorado State University, the Administrative Professional Council, the Classified Personnel Council, Facilities Management, the Divisions of Student Affairs and External Relations, and the President’s Office.
“The 18-member task force brings excellent perspective and broad campus representation to study this important question,” said Hughes.
In the past, the university supported more than 200 mechanical dispensers across campus; however, these vending machines were slowly phased out as mechanical malfunctions made them difficult and costly to maintain. The task force launched the pilot in July, in All Gender restrooms located in 15 buildings. The restroom sites are included in the online campus map, under Inclusive Resources.
Lack of access important issue
Lack of access to period products has an impact on both students and employees. Both groups have reported leaving campus when they unexpectedly start their periods during the middle of the day, thus missing valuable time in class or at work.
“Our task force sees the You Matter… Period initiative as a way of supporting student and employee success,” said Erin Patchett, associate director of Campus Recreation and a task force member. “Menstruation is a natural biological process, experienced by over half of the student body, and it should not be a barrier to getting a quality education.”
Offering free period products promotes access to resources that may be currently difficult to find on campus, especially if the relatively high cost of period products is prohibitive for those who urgently need them.
“Supplying free period products supports general health and well-being on campus like other standard supplies offered free of charge in our campus restrooms — toilet paper, paper towels, and hand soap,” said Neal Luján, task force chair.
Spencer Nolan, task force member representing ASCSU, explained why the initiative refers to period products.
“We are intentional about the language of ‘period products’ and not ‘feminine products’ to be inclusive of people who identify as transgender,” Nolan said. “Not all people who menstruate identify as women, and some people who menstruate may use men’s restrooms.”
“We are also intentional about not referring to period products as ‘hygiene products’ to avoid implying that menstruation is unhygienic,” according to Kristin Stephens, CPC representative on the task force. “All members of the CSU community benefit when we de-stigmatize periods.”
With this initiative, CSU is in the forefront of a national movement, as a number of college campuses across the country are considering and developing programs to provide free period products.
The “You Matter… Period” pilot includes an invitation to provide feedback about the initiative. The online survey link is at this website.
The task force plans to evaluate feedback gathered from the pilot and will generate recommendations for an ongoing campus service model.