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The Carletonian

CSA initiative to address menstrual product availability

<rleton Student Association (CSA) Senate meeting on Monday, September 24, Class of 2022 Representative Nicole Collins proposed renewing the initiative to increase the availability of menstrual products on campus. The project was started a few years ago and has since remained stagnant.

One of the main challenges that the initiative attempts to address is the lack of access to free menstrual products on campus. While “the GSC has a stock of various types of menstrual products, pads and tampons in their bathroom, and that’s accessible 24/7, judgement-free, anyone can take it, and those are absolutely free… the opposite side of campus does not have free menstrual products,” said CSA President Apoorva Handigol ’19. “Some of the RAs last year were trying to have a supply of free products in Watson, but it didn’t end up going through yet.”

GSC Liaison to CSA Senate Sam Palim ’19 addressed the lack of menstrual products in gender neutral restrooms on campus. “Right now a lot of the supply of menstrual products are in women’s bathrooms. First, not only are they not free—you have to pay. Second, not everyone who needs these supplies uses those bathrooms,” he said. “I am really glad that Nicole brought this up to Senate… just because the CSA has access to different things than the GSC does, and they are not necessarily better or worse things. I think the more resources, avenues and organizations that are brought into this project, the more likely that we will be able to have solutions and initiatives that work for more students on campus,” he said.

“We are at the very beginning stage of this process,” said first-year Grace Hague. “To get a better sense of which areas on campus we should focus our efforts on, we are hoping to basically compile a list of the women and gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, and then see which ones of those have access to feminine hygiene products.”

The CSA Senate is currently collaborating with the GSC Healthy Sexuality team led by Sergio Demara ’20. “We have a couple of options open for funding,” said Collins. “One is the school: we are currently asking SHAC and the Office of Health Promotion if they are able to fund it. Otherwise, we will approach the CSA Budget Committee and Student Projects Committee.” Demara said that “partnering with non-profit organizations for grant money and funding for more accessible menstrual products” is also being considered.

“I think we [the CSA] could start establishing a CSA-funded supply of menstrual products in various places on campus, and that would also establish more credibility and show the administration that this is such a need on campus that students have to go out of their way to create this themselves,” said Handigol.
Collins posted a Google Form petition for this initiative on the Class of 2022 Facebook page on September 27. “We received like 83 responses in 2 days. People have been saying overwhelmingly positive things, like: ‘I fully support this,’ [and] ‘this is something we really need. I can’t necessarily afford these things—I don’t have that kind of money.’ It’s shocking that the school doesn’t offer it already to students because so many students can’t seem to afford it, and it’s just a necessity,” she said.

Despite uncertainty regarding the college administration’s attitude towards this initiative, the CSA is determined to push for change. “It’s a severe injustice that students aren’t provided with free menstrual products, especially given barriers in cost, barriers to people of different gender identities, especially trans folks and their access to menstrual products,” said Handigol. “We will take it on ourselves first, but after that the college should provide free products to anyone regardless of need.”

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