Student group & AMS push for period accessibility

Sanitary products should be treated like toilet paper, according to club co-chair

Period product bins have been installed in female, male, and gender-neutral washrooms in the JDUC and Queen’s Centre.
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To enhance accessibility to period products on campus and education about menstruation, Queen’s Period implemented  its “take one, leave one” campaign this fall. 

In collaboration with the AMS, the club kickstarted the campaign at the beginning of November by installing bins in female, male, and gender-neutral bathrooms in the JDUC and the Queen’s Centre. The project aims to provide students with access to sanitary products, available in the bins, when they’re in need by having others donate products.

Queen’s Period is a chapter of the Period Organization founded in the United States in 2014. The organization says its three pillars are education, advocacy, and community outreach. According to its mandate, the organization strives to fight against period poverty and stigma around the world.

Jessica Dahanayake, AMS vice-president (Operations), said the collaboration between the AMS and Queen’s Period started when she saw the club  at Queen’s in the Park in the beginning of the year.

Aside from the bins, the AMS also helped with community outreach for Queen’s Period. Dahanayake said surveys about Queen’s Period were circulated around social media in mid-November. 

“The purpose of the survey was to start the conversation on period, period stigma and accessibility on campus, and we’ll be using that in our research,” Dahanayake said. “The University has been quite supportive on the different projects we’ve been telling them about.”

According to Dahanayake, the University is supportive of installing the bins in the Four Directions Indigenous Students Centre and Ban Righ Centre.

“I know [when] I was in first year, I had to run to the pharmacy for period products, when realistically they should be made a little bit more available considering we also lived in residence,” Dahanayake said, adding period products could be available at the front desks of the residences.

Renée Davies (ArtSci ’22), the co-chair of Queen’s Period, said the club has been ratified for two years and has previously focused on community outreach through activities like period product drives and fundraising.

According to Davies, the club wants the public to view menstrual products as a necessity as important as toilet paper.

“It’s important for students on campus because everyone knows someone who menstruates,” she said. “And that can be a really costly thing.”

In 2015, the federal government removed taxes on tampons, making the hygiene products more affordable. However, in some countries and parts of the United States, tampons and pads continue to be heavily taxed.

Currently, the club is collaborating with organization partners at other universities to host a March for Menstruation in February and March, according to Davies.  She said the club is also working with the University to install bins in more places around campus, like student residences.

In the last month, Queen’s Period has also hosted drives for homeless shelters and women’s shelters around the Kingston community.

“They don’t have access to these products because a lot of the time, donations of these products are forgotten,” Davies said.

“When someone doesn’t have access to menstrual products, they are restricted from leaving their home or [forced to] use unsafe alternative[s]. This can lead to infections and possibly toxic shock as unsanitary products are placed in or on the body.”

 

Corrections

This article has been corrected to reflect the fact that bins were also installed in men's bathrooms in the JDUC and Queen's Centre.

The Journal regrets the error.

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