According to a study by BMC Women’s Health, one in ten female college students reported experiencing chronic period poverty, meaning they struggled to pay for basic menstrual products easy month, and another 14 percent of the group reported struggling to pay for menstrual products within the last year.
Access to period products is an issue that many college students may struggle with. In response to this issue, Pittsburg State University’s Student Government Association (SGA) issued a survey on Monday, Feb. 22 about the need for free menstrual products to be available on campus.
“We always want our students to feel welcome, included, appreciated, cared for and we realized even from the surveys we’re getting now that there have been instances where students have said they have to put items back from their shopping cart to afford menstrual products and we don’t ever want our students to feel like that,” said SGA President Sumner Mackey, senior in communication and political science. “We want to take as much of a burden off our students as we can… We want to do as much as we can to relieve the stress of all of that.”
The survey was sent out via a BULK-E email and asked for students to indicate where on campus they would like to have access to free menstrual products, included questions gauging if acquiring period products was affected by financial hardship, as well as what types of products were needed. A separate survey was also sent out to faculty and staff.
“The survey is kind of our way of getting the student’s voice and the student’s opinion,” Mackey said. “It’s a survey to see if there is some kind of financial struggle that is going on with students, is there actually a need for this…We’re using the information they’re giving us as a way of saying they are wanting this product, and where’s the best places to put them if we can’t put them in every building.”
Carlie Payne, freshman in biochemistry, was glad to see the SGA looking into providing free menstrual products as she believes it is an important issue.
“Sometimes you may forget (products) or not be able to afford that kind of stuff and it would be nice to have that available in case you’re by yourself and can’t ask somebody,” Payne said. “It’s important because people can become sick from not having access to those products.”
Ioulia Efthyvoulou, graduate student in psychology, is excited at the prospect of free period products as she believes it will help students who may not be able to afford menstrual products.
“It’s not our option to have periods and it’s a lot of money each year to pay for all those products that you need and I’m sure a lot of students don’t have the budget to pay for all those products along with the other expenses they have,” Efthyvoulou said. “They already do have in some countries that provide free menstrual products overall, so starting from a university is important.”
Mackey said he believes the products should be provide for free as other health products are already provided to students at no cost.
“If we are giving out free sexual protection, why can’t we also give this (menstrual products) out?” Mackey said.
Going forward, the SGA will study the results from the survey and make a decision about how to fund the project.
“We can either take it to faculty senate or president’s council and say could we possibly add this to the budget next year, like a utilities budget, or most likely we can add it into the SGA budget,” Mackey said.
The survey link is still open for responses, and Mackey encourages students to take it as soon as possible to have their voice heard on the issue.