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Health

CSU Tells Students 'You Matter… Period' With Free Pads and Tampons

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Products used for menstruation are now available for free in 33 bathrooms on the Colorado State University campus. The task force that launched the campaign hopes to see the service continue.

Anyone who needs a tampon or pad while on the Colorado State University campus will no longer have to wrestle with aging coin operated dispensers. A campaign, called “You Matter… Period,” has made free period products available in 33 bathrooms at CSU since it began in July.

“It’s ridiculous to think someone will have a quarter the exact moment their period hits,” says graduate coordinator Kristin Stephens, who’s been a part of the program since its beginning.

“If something happens, there’s kind of an ‘oops’ moment and then they don’t have any product to access easily,” she said. “It can really change people’s day.”

Stephens says someone might not go back to class or work if they don’t have — or can’t afford — period products.

The products are kept in easy to maintain dispensers, a crucial element of the program according to Neal Luján, the chair of the task force. He says the group acknowledges period products have been available on campus in past, but that’s changing.

“Most recently we’ve seen a reduction in its availability,” Luján says, “primarily because of challenges related to maintaining mechanical dispenser devices.”

The campaign is also intentional in its language, refraining from terms like “feminine” and “hygiene” products.

“Menstruation is a biological process and not socially constructed, like femininity,” says Kristy Kumar, a member of the task force. “And we also didn’t want to further the misconception that menstruation is an un-hygienic process.”

Kumar says not all people who have periods identify as female and use women’s restrooms. That is one of the reasons why the pilot program began in a portion of the school’s all gender bathrooms.

“You Matter… Period” is still in its first stages, but the task force is beginning to accumulate data via an online survey. Stephens says most schools that launch a similar program find it valuable enough to continue. She also notes the committee found less than a handful of Colorado schools providing free period products.  

“We’ll have a lot of good information that we can share with other universities, and hopefully this will catch on,” Stephens says.

The campaign comes as national awareness about accessibility to period products is increasing. In July a group of U.S. Senators sponsored a bill to require access to free menstrual products for incarcerated women. Grassroots activists across the country are advocating for better access to these products in public spaces.