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Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Menstrual Equity for All Act gives students access to free menstrual products on campus

The Pantry also supplies menstrual products to students, faculty and staff

 

By KRISTIN TRENT — campus@theaggie.org

 

Beginning in October 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB-367, also known as the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021. The bill specifically requires that sixth through 12th grade public schools in California with 40% of the student population at or below the poverty line supply half of all bathrooms with menstrual products, including at least one men’s bathroom per school. Furthermore, the bill encourages the UC Regents, private universities, colleges and institutions of higher learning to stock an adequate supply of free menstrual products at a minimum of one central location.

UC Davis has followed these guidelines, installing dispensers with pads and tampons during fall quarter 2021. The dispensers are located in 23 campus restrooms including those at Wellman Hall, the Memorial Union, the CoHo, Bainer Hall and Giedt Hall. 

Montserrat Morales, a fourth-year psychology major, said she remembers the first time she saw the dispensers in the bathrooms. Morales felt that having access to menstrual products on campus made her feel more protected if she forgot her own at home. 

“You have to rely on other girls [for menstrual supplies] sometimes, but with the dispensers I know I’m covered,” Morales said.

Because the dispensers are not campus-wide, Morales suggested having QR codes in bathroom stalls that list other restrooms with menstrual products available.

Students, faculty and staff can also access free menstrual products at The Pantry. 

According to Operations Manager Ian Lawrence, The Pantry goes through 296 pads everyday. Data collected in the fall shows that The Pantry supplied 22,200 pads over the course of two and a half months. 

As a result of the demand for menstrual products, Senate Bill #77 was passed on May 4, 2022, allocating an additional $3,767.52 from Senate reserves to purchase more menstrual products. 

The bill cites the impact period poverty — the lack of access to menstrual products, hygiene facilities, waste management and education — can have on students’ educational success. With as many as 1 in 10 college students lacking the funds to afford menstrual products monthly, period poverty is prevalent on college campuses. 

Furthermore, as many as 1 in 4 teens have missed class due to period poverty, so students with limited access to menstruation supplies may also experience decreased academic performance. Insubstantial resources can lead to poor mental health and leave menstruators resorting to unhygienic alternatives. 

According to Viet-Long Nguyen, the external affairs manager, The Pantry previously relied on cash donations, and passing the Senate bill will allow them to more reliably supply students, faculty and staff with these necessities.

All students, faculty and staff are eligible to get menstrual products regardless of their income or perceived need at The Pantry, according to Nguyen. Students or employees can show their respective IDs to access The Pantry’s resources. 

 

Written by: Kristin Trent — campus@theaggie.org

 

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