Queen’s Period collecting menstrual products through contactless product drives

Periods don’t stop for pandemics

Renée Davies (left) and Arden Faye (right) said they hope to see free menstrual product dispensers installed in more buildings on campus.
Supplied by Queen's Period.
Renée Davies (left) and Arden Faye (right) said they hope to see free menstrual product dispensers installed in more buildings on campus.
Supplied by Queen's Period.

Through virtual education and contactless product drives, Queen’s Period is continuing to raise awareness about menstrual inequality and reduce period poverty during the pandemic.

“The biggest issue that people are facing right now is financial insecurity,” Renée Davies, one of Queen’s Period co-chairs, said in an interview with The Journal

“All donations towards shelters and food banks are majorly important, but menstrual products often get forgotten because people think [about] food first, then maybe they’ll think about sanitary products like toothpaste, but a lot of people don’t think about tampons and pads as being something you should widely donate.”

Arden Faye, Queen’s Period co-chair, said Queen’s Period was often stationed in the Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC) during menstrual product drives and relied on student foot traffic for donations, but the peculiarity of the remote school year has forced changes.

READ MORE: It’s time to discuss menstruation on campus—period

Last semester, Queen’s Period hosted dropboxes at local yoga and fitness studios so members frequenting those locations could donate menstrual products. They also partnered with Queen’s Female Leadership in Politics (QFLIP) to fundraise through a sticker sale, whose profits went toward purchasing menstrual products to redistribute in the Kingston community.

“We’ve also had people reach out to us independently [with] products they wanted to donate and we would arrange a pick-up or drop-off,” Faye said. “We’re managing to still collect a similar amount of products, which is fantastic. If anyone has anything to donate, they can message us on Facebook or Instagram or write us an email and we will more than happily pick it up.”

Queen’s Period assembles “period packs” with the donations it receives; each pack typically consists of eight to 10 tampons and five to seven pads—a total of 15 products of varying absorbencies intended to last a full period, Faye said.

According to Davies and Faye, just this year Queen’s Period has donated period packs to shelters in the Kingston community including Kingston Interval House and St. Vincent de Paul Society, with another donation to Lily’s Place Emergency Shelter on the way.

“There certainly is a need and a wide variety of youth and women shelters that accept these products,” Faye said. “They’re always really happy to greet us and accept our donations.”

This fall, owing to joint advocacy efforts between Queen’s Period and the AMS, the University installed free menstrual product dispensers in women’s and gender-neutral washrooms in the ARC, John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC), and Stauffer Library.

“Last year […] we did a trial run with take-one-leave-one bins in AMS-controlled buildings,” Davies said. “[The University] was concerned about vandalism in the male washrooms, so now the dispensers are in the female washrooms and the gender-neutral ones.”

Davies and Faye said they hope to see free menstrual product dispensers installed in more buildings on campus, but Davies predicts the University will limit dispensers to the current high-traffic buildings until students return to campus “to really find out what the need is, where the need is, and if there’s going to be any major abuse to the free products they’re giving away.”

READ MORE: Queen’s to install free menstrual product dispensers next week

“We’re definitely going to continue advocating to expand that project to more buildings,” Faye added. “We’ve had people from [the faculty of engineering] reach out to us and request that [dispensers be installed] in the ILC because they spend a lot of time there, so we really would love to see those free dispensers in as many buildings as possible, including gender-neutral and male washrooms—just understanding that not all menstruators are female and not all females menstruate […] we really want to normalize that.”

Queen’s Period will be hosting a trivia night towards the end of January, with questions surrounding reproductive health and menstrual equity.

“Later in the semester, we’re going to be hosting a discussion panel and gathering professionals from different disciplines to discuss the impact of menstruation on [physical and mental health] and menstruation across the gender spectrum,” Faye said. “We’re really hoping to get lots of perspectives and have an educational panel where people can listen and learn.”

“Something [else] we’re currently working on is virtual education, so our social media accounts have important information to know,” Davies added. “We just did a series of posts on Instagram about sustainable menstruation, [which is] something that people can use as a resource.”

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