Free Menstrual Products Now Available At Most Campuses

FIU's Women's Center is giving out free menstural hygine products throughout the Spring 2020 semester. Products include pads, tampons and lube. Irina Barneda/PantherNOW

By Laura Antunez / Staff Writer

Free organic and biodegradable menstrual products will now be available for individuals who menstruate at both FIU campuses thanks to a resolution presented by the Student Government Council at Modesto Maidique Campus. 

“When you think of menstruation, it is not something you can turn on and off, it’s not something that is done voluntarily,” said Mayra Ona, program assistant at the Women’s Center at MMC. “It’s just a matter of biology.”

A resolution that was presented and approved last year will come into effect in the coming weeks to offer feminine hygiene products in bathrooms at both MMC, BBC, and the Engineering Campus.

One of the SGC-MMC senators which proposed this bill, Angel Algarin, wasn’t aware of the inflated prices of feminine hygiene prices until he checked them at one of the various MedBox machines seen around campus. Upon his inspection, he was inspired to create a bill to give them for free to students who need them. 

“I was just astounded how expensive they were,” said Algarin. “It felt predatory in a way.”

The $25,000 comes from the SGC-MMC contingency fund and will provide 15 dispensers from Aunt Flow in women’s bathrooms and will provide both pads and tampons. The tampons will have a cardboard applicator and both the tampon and the pad will be made of 100 percent organic cotton.

According to their website, Aunt Flow was started when founder and CEO Claire Coder unexpectedly received her period in public and had no access to feminine hygiene products. Their mission is to make menstruation products accessible to those who need them. For every 10 pads they sell, they donate one. 

Lack of access to such products is a problem that runs deeper than simply not having them available to students. It plays into issues such as socioeconomic disparities and privilege. 

“Even when you do look at pads, for example, the typical person who doesn’t have all the actors put together to have the privilege and the power to buy these really expensive products, are going to have to buy them anyway and then they don’t know what they’re putting in their body,” said Ona. 

Feminine hygiene products at times will have inflated prices even though it is something all individuals who menstruate need. The use of pads and tampons can be comparable to using toilet paper. Having to pay exorbitant prices for biological processes is similar to having to pay for toilet paper every time you needed to use the bathroom. 

According to Ona, at times students will come into the women’s center and request several pads because they can’t afford to buy them elsewhere. 

The grant is designed to initiate momentum for continued access to these products.

“What we plan to do is implement this as a pilot so its benefits show that female students on campus like this and actually use them,” said Algarin. 

Aside from the dispensers, SGC-MMC is also working to implement signage in other restrooms where dispensers are not available to direct them to where they could get access to these services on campus. 

“It’s my hope in the future that each restroom will be retrofitted to have either a dispenser or a little box with feminine hygiene products in them so no matter which restroom woman enters they always have the opportunity to a free product right then and there,” said Algarin. 

This article has been amended and now has the correct source of funding for this initiative.

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