At least half the people on campus know the feeling : When your menstrual cycle begins unexpectedly and you’re caught without a pad or tampon, it can ruin your whole day, not to mention your clothing.
Colorado State University knows that lack of access to period products has an impact on both students and employees. Both groups have reported leaving campus when they start their periods during the middle of the day, thus missing valuable time in class or at work.
To help make CSU the best place for all people to work, teach and learn, the Division of Student Affairs launched the “You Matter… Period” pilot program to provide free tampons and pads in about three dozen All Gender restrooms in 15 buildings across campus.
“Offering free period products promotes access to resources that may be currently difficult to find on campus, especially if the relatively high cost of the products is prohibitive for those who urgently need them,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes, who convened an 18-member task force to research the need, opportunities, and options for providing products at no charge.
In the past, the university had 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, making it harder to find period products at all.
And there were other considerations as well.
“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.
Decision expected soon
The pilot started in July 2017, and gathered data on usage as well as public opinion and feedback on the effectiveness of the program. According to Luján, 95 percent of survey respondents indicated strong favor for the free period products service on campus.
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 task force has presented its recommendations to Hughes for a possible ongoing campus-wide service model, and a decision is expected later this fall.
In the meantime, free period products continue to be available in select All Gender restrooms across campus, including in Lory Student Center and Morgan Library. A complete list of locations is available on the interactive online campus map, under the Inclusive Resources tab.