Quick question for the ladies in the audience: have you ever been in a situation where you needed a pad/tampon and could not get one? Such could have been the case for any one of the women on campus over the first two weeks of January, as there were no easily accessible feminine hygiene products available in the Knowles Douglas Centre. Several people have debated on the internet whether or not feminine hygiene products should be free, however the issue at stake in this instance is different: women should be able to ensure they have access to hygiene products in public places. Whether they are free or not is another matter entirely.
The protocol in the Knowles Douglas Centre, for those not in-the-know, is for women-in-need to march up to the 2nd floor from the bathroom (which is located in the basement) if they need feminine hygiene products, and then march back downstairs. While this is a bit of a pain, the products are free of charge, rather then charging $0.25-$1 per tampon as you would find in most public washrooms. The reason for this system is that the product dispenser in the KDC female bathroom is out of order, and has been for quite some time, and in lieu of fixing it the Students’ Union directs students to the Women’s Collective to obtain the needed hygiene products.
When asked about the situation, BUSU Vice President Internal Jill Creasor was baffled, having not known about the lack of products available. “As a female myself, I completely agree that [a lack of feminine hygiene products] is an issue.” She then advised that an inquiry into repairing the feminine hygiene product dispenser in question would be added to the agenda for the next KDC Board Meeting, of which she is the chair. Creasor commented on the redirection to the Women’s Collective, stating that “It’s a headache to go up two floors, but they’re free, so we [BUSU] thought that the problem was resolved.”
Upon contacting the Chairperson for the Women’s Collective, Poonam Bath, she was able to provide more information into the problem. Bath commented that the members of the collective had been unaware that there were no available hygiene products at that time, however since this conversation the stock has been replenished. Bath stated that “on the occasion that [there are no hygiene products], there are tampon dispensers in every washroom” which is true of most washrooms on campus, but the KDC’s washroom notably does not meet this criteria. Some other suggestions offered included that on Friday afternoons the Food Bank gives away feminine hygiene products to students, and that during BUSU Office Hours there is always someone available with access to the Women’s Collective.
However, despite the advice that has been offered and the assurances given from both the Women’s Collective and BUSU, there is still the possibility that feminine hygiene products will be inaccessible. If you happen to need access to them outside of BUSU’s office hours for instance, or when you are unable to go to a bathroom in a different building. If there are not hygiene products offered to students in the KDC it still leaves the potential for those menstruating to be caught unawares in an unfortunate situation. The best caution that can be stressed is not to be caught unawares, and to carry a small supply with you when possible. This is something that both men and women can do to help save yourself, a friend, or even a stranger from the potential embarrassment of not having any feminine hygiene products in your time of need.
Further, the Women’s Collective would like to invite anyone who interested in assisting or joining them more than welcome to do so, as currently there are only two members who are volunteering their time.