USG pilot program for free pads and tampons to begin next week

In this Aug. 23, 2007, file photo, a sign marks the entrance to a gender-neutral restroom at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt. The Montana Supreme Court has ordered the attorney general to rewrite ballot language for an initiative that would require people to use public restrooms designated for their gender at birth. The court ruled Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, in a challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, saying the language didn't include the initiative's specific definition of "sex" and was otherwise vague. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) will provide free tampons and pads in three on-campus buildings as part of a pilot program starting next week, according to Wanjiku Gatheru, the Student Services Chairwoman for USG.

The initiative, which was first proposed last fall and intended to be rolled out in the spring, will provide free feminine hygiene products in female and gender-neutral bathrooms in Homer Babbidge Library, the Student Union and the Student Recreation Facility, Gatheru said.

Student Services Vice-Chair Priyanka Thakkar said hygiene products are being placed in gender-neutral bathrooms to reach individuals who might not identify within the gender binary but also need these products.

“If you are transgender, we are here to support you,” Thakkar said.

Gatheru said the delay in rolling out the initiative is a result of a switch in leadership, and that many of the individuals involved in the effort had graduated. She said products that were ordered to be used in the spring semester did not arrive until May.

Thakkar said she continued the effort after leaders graduated because she believed the initiative was important.

“It’s just something that we all deserve to have,” she said.

Gatheru said 42 dispensers and a couple thousand pads and tampons were ordered last year and will be used this semester. USG is looking for volunteers to fill dispensers in the designated bathrooms.

“It’s going to be done for students, by students,” Gatheru said.

She said the effort was initially brought on by students who voiced that this was something they wanted to see implemented.

“We should be servicing our students as much as we can,” she said.

The Students Services committee has researched similar efforts in other universities and is using the pilot program to measure the success of the effort, which will help determine the future of the program, Gatheru said.

Gatheru said the committee originally had $20,000 allocated to the program when it was set to start in the spring, but it currently only has $3,000 to fund all of its efforts. Therefore, if products run out and the pilot program is a success, additional funding may be needed from USG.

Thakkar said free hygiene products could eventually be placed in residential and academic buildings if the program is a success.

Gatheru said she believes feminine products are a necessity and a “human right.” She also said that similar to how condoms are available for free, pads and tampons should be as well.

“Sex is optional,” Gatheru said. “Menstruation is not.”


Sarah Al-Arshani is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at sarah.al-arshani@uconn.edu