Concordia Student Groups, CSU Release Stigma on Menstruation

SSMU Supplies Free Menstrual Hygiene Products in McGill Washrooms

  • Providing better access means alleviating some of the hefty costs that students can’t opt out of. File Photo Franca G. Mignacca

The Concordia Student Union sustainability committee has set aside a budget of $2,000 to put towards the purchase of free menstrual hygiene products for students.

“People shouldn’t have to be charged for something they can’t control,” said CSU Sustainability Coordinator Devon Ellis-Durity. “Right now, I’m just working with my committee and trying to make it a permanent feature at the CSU.”

This semester, the items are available in a white bin at the CSU’s office. In addition to the products, the CSU offers educational booklets that include information about menstrual health and reusable menstrual products.

Providing better access to these supplies means alleviating some of the hefty costs that students can’t opt out of. It also lessens the stigma that surrounds menstruation.

Julia Sutera Sardo, former interim president of the Arts and Science Federation of Associations, started a campaign to give students access to the products last year. Sutera Sardo held a few tabling sessions at both Concordia campuses where students could pick up pads, tampons and Diva Cups for free.

ASFA still keeps a steady stock of sanitary items in their office. Though a yearly budget hasn’t been set, ASFA President Jonathan Roy says he’ll make sure they never run out.

“There’s always an account made for that when budgets are done for the next year,” said Roy.

“So, whoever chairs [the advocacy] committee will find a way to make sure that there’s money in the budget for the purchasing or repurchasing of menstrual products.”

Roy said that VP of External Affairs and Sustainability, Bianca Bruzzese, is also working on getting a Diva Cup sponsorship to add to the stock that the student association keeps.

“In the same sense that it’s so accessible for men or people with penises to have access to free condoms, it should be equally as accessible for women or non-identifying individuals to have access to the hygiene products that they need,” Roy said.

The Fine Arts Student Alliance also offers menstrual hygiene products to students and community members who pass by their office.

A table with free pads and tampons was set up outside of their office last fall and has seen a steady pick-up rate.

“The reality is it’s not just women who have periods,” FASA General Coordinator Cleopatra Boudreau told The Link in October. “There are certain people who might feel uncomfortable going to grab a tampon or pad. So, it’s important that they have access to [them] too.”

Students’ Society of McGill University

Last winter, the Students’ Society of McGill University began collecting $0.90 from each undergraduate student each semester to fund menstrual hygiene products for washrooms across campus.

Dispensers filled with free sanitary products have been installed in the female, male and gender-neutral washrooms in the SSMU building and as of last fall, the group gradually began installing them in others.

“[We’re] kind of slowly rolling out throughout campus but coordinating it with the university as well as the cleaning services,” SSMU President Muna Tojiboeva told The Link in October.

“We’re the ones ordering the dispensers as well as all of the tampons, all of the hygiene products.”

Ellis-Durity plans to look into how McGill was able to successfully implement the project to see if it could be done at Concordia.

“I feel like that would have to be spoken about with administration, just because of the bins and how they’re currently renovating everything,” said Ellis-Durity. “But I feel like we could also push for this and pressure the university to have it, because it’s a human necessity to have these items available for everyone.”

With files from Franca G. Mignacca

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