Free menstrual products provided at VIU

Vancouver Island University students can now get free menstrual products on campus.

The university and its student union teamed up last year to begin offering a range of products in the cafeteria, gymnasium and library.

The need for such items has been demonstrated and now the program is expanding.

“This is a barrier to education access that VIU is happy to be able to remove,” said Irlanda Gonzalez Price, associate vice president of student affairs at the university.

“No one should have the experience of going without these necessary products while learning.”

Period poverty is a reality that forces many people to choose between buying menstrual products or buying necessities for their families, Gonzalez Price said.

“For students preparing for exams or a big interview, not having access to menstrual products can prevent them from succeeding,” she said.

“We wanted to make these products accessible to everyone who needs them, when they need them, in a dignified and private way.

“Not having a dollar or change shouldn’t prevent you from accessing products.”

The university and student union have signed up to support United Way’s Menstrual Promise Campaign (periodpromise.ca/pages/make-your-promise), which works to increase access to menstrual products at no cost.

The term “period of poverty” refers to the lack of money to pay for these items.

Trash cans are installed on campus in women’s and gender-neutral washrooms on campus and VIU facilities. Free products will include tampons, pads and panty liners.

Sean Desrochers, director of external relations for the students’ union, said: “Everyone deserves to have access to menstrual products, just like they do to toilet paper or other necessities.”

VIU’s announcement comes as the United Way of BC Period Pledge, sponsored by Pacific Blue Cross, launches a campaign to collect 700,000 menstrual products – or the equivalent amount in donations – between today and June 7.

He works to get free items in BC public schools, public restrooms and elsewhere.

Half of all people who menstruate in British Columbia have had trouble paying for products at some point, according to United Way.

More than a quarter of women have gone through a period without any menstrual product.

Organizations and agencies supporting the Period Pledge effort include the City of Victoria, British Columbia Federation of Labour, City of North Vancouver, Houle Electric and Community Savings Credit Union.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com


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Rozella J. Cook