New pilot program provides access to free menstrual products
Students can find free menstrual products at the UWY in new program in association with ASUWT.
In collaboration with the Husky Sustainability Fund, the UWY and ASUWT (Associated Students of University of Washington Tacoma), a new pilot program has launched that will provide free menstrual products to students who may need them.
Currently, students can find these products in the women’s locker room and gender-neutral restroom on the first floor of the Y and in the second and third floors of the women’s restrooms at the Y. This program was created out of a need to provide students with access to reproductive healthcare products that some students may not be able to afford.
The program was launched by student and Director of University of Affairs for ASUWT, Exita Lealofi, who was approached by a student during Fall quarter regarding a lack of access to menstrual products for students.
“They informed me that a number of locations on the UWT campus do not provide free menstruation products to commuters or students residing in dorms. Additionally, they argued that it was unnecessary for them to pay for these items at the UWY,” Lealofi said, “I presented the proposal to the ASUWT Executive Board, and they endorsed it as a result of this student’s enthusiasm and interest in the topic.”
The program is in its early stages and began sometime mid-January. It will be monitored for the rest of February and potentially March. Currently, the data of this program is tracked by Genevieve Conley, the Student Sustainability Coordinator for the Husky Sustainability Fund.
The data collecting consists of Conley refilling products in the designated restrooms and counting weekly how many menstrual products are taken. Individuals who partake in the program are encouraged to take a survey that will further provide insight into the program and its need for Conley.
The survey is optional and those who use the products are not required to take it.
“You don’t have to participate in the program to take the survey, it’s just asking who’s participating in the program. Are you a student, staff member or community member? How often do you find yourself without access to period products,” Conley said.
This information is beneficial to those conducting the program as well as the University Y as they have provided the products for the program and those involved are looking to find if they need to provide different products for individuals such as menstrual pads and tampons for different absorbances and sizes.
“Products are definitely being taken in all of the locations in the Y,” Conley said.
Lealofi is hopeful that the program can continue and products can be stocked at the Y as well as other locations around campus that may not have menstrual products readily available for students. If the need continues and students raise support for this issue, Lealofi is considering the steps to making this program more official.
“We are also looking at school policies and may even draft a resolution. We talked about how promoting the concept and program across the entire campus through petitions, surveys, and tabling could help the school find a more effective strategy to fund our program,” Lealofi said.
While nothing is set in stone, Lealofi and Conley are hopeful that an expansion of this program may happen sometime in the near future or potentially Spring quarter.
If you have any questions you can follow ASUWT on Instagram @ASUWT or email Exita Lealofi at Exita26@uw.edu To take the survey for The Husky Sustainability Fund, you can go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdUdQq6ECxfqrGm2zDpsfK6TQXZEq_WBsqyn3pzbrQHPrPQGw/viewform