By Tina Shaygan, September 8 2017 —
University of Calgary students can now access free feminine hygiene products, such as tampons and pads, on campus, courtesy of the Students’ Union. The U of C is one of the first universities in Canada to offer such a program.
SU vice-president student life Hilary Jahelka said the idea was discussed at the annual Leaders Hall conference, with the goal of providing more accessibility to resources for students on Canadian campuses.
“It’s about creating an accessible and affordable campus for all students,” Jahelka said. “Anyone who has a period I’m sure has experienced something where you need something right away.”
Jahelka added that while the idea has been widely discussed, the U of C is one of the few campuses that has officially started providing free menstrual products on campus. Other schools in Canada with similar programs include McGill University and the University of Toronto.
“We did a lot of research on how much it costs for people who have periods to spend every year. We did research into where we can get funding and it is something I’ve been talking to other schools about,” Jahelka said. “So other schools are trying to get it going but I think we’re one of the first to actually have it.”
Jahelka used her Special Projects funding to account for $350 of the pilot program’s funding. Each year, SU executives receive a certain amount of money to work on their campaign promises. The remainder of the funding will come from the “Programs” line in the SU’s Student Government budget — the same budget that funds SU’s free condoms program.
“This year is our tester year to see how many [feminine hygiene products] to use and after this year we will decide if we need to allocate more or less money to it,” said Jahelka.
Jahelka said a key component of the program is accessibility and notes that having the products available at the Q Centre — the SU’s centre for gender and sexual diversity — is essential to the program.
“We’re handing [feminine hygiene products] out at the Q Centre so that students who may be transgender and don’t want to visibly out themselves can go and have a safe place to collect period products,” she added.
Students can find free menstrual products at the SU main office, the Info Centre in MacHall and the Q Centre.