Navigating periods on campus
By Mia Smith, Contributor
It’s that time of the month; time to talk about periods. There is not a single woman who enjoys their period. It is a painful experience (for many both mentally and physically) that women are forced to endure regularly.
In a perfect world, work and school would be closed on these days of the month. However, that is not the actual world in which women now live. It is required of us to gather ourselves and act like responsible members of society.
Not only are periods absolutely dreadful, but also expensive. As women, we are expected to pay for our own suffering.
How is that fair?
The average box of tampons and pads at Walmart ranges anywhere from $5 to $20 depending on the brand and size of the box—this is absurd.
Canada is beginning to make steps in the right direction, though. As of Dec. 15, 2023, period products are required to be given to federal employees by their employer.
This is a small step forward towards a good idea but still an issue that needs to be addressed on a larger scale.
A cheaper alternative period product is on the rise, menstrual cups. This budget and environmentally friendly option sounds great in theory but they make a lot of women feel nervous.
The menstrual cup is a small reusable cup made out of medical-grade silicone that is inserted into a vagina to catch menstrual flow.
Why the hesitation?
I spoke with third-year Mount Royal Education student Paityn Babb about her thoughts on the said product, she expressed her hesitation towards the product quite openly.
“[Menstrual] cups scare me, I feel like it might get stuck up there,” joked Babb.
There is a stigma around the cups that they are scary but when the alternative is paying extra money every month, it is hard to understand why the student population would not be more pulled towards them as a product.
The average menstrual cup online is listed at an average of $30. For students, this could be worth the investment in the long-run.
People are still warming up to the product, as they have grown so much in mainstream media in recent years.
Until more people face their fears and try out a menstrual cup, we are stuck paying for these expensive products once a month.
Mount Royal University (MRU) is taking positive steps to help the student population with these financial burdens.
In Fall 2023, MRU launched a campaign to provide accessible products to students. Their slogan being “Take what you need, when you need it. Period.”
The mission behind the campaign is to provide students with free period products in all of the bathrooms around campus in a small bin in the washroom.
“Mount Royal University is committed to providing safe, accessible and inclusive period products to our campus community.
We all have the right to access essential sanitary products, including toilet paper, period products, soap and hand-drying materials,” as stated within the washroom information page on the MRU website.
While being on campus, it is apparent that although the program has great intent, there are significant flaws. One being that the sizes and variety in the products given is lacking.
Although, the biggest issue that students are finding is the amount of stock within these bins.
Both Babb and third-year Public Relations student Kaleena Gee have expressed that they would both use the products as they are a good idea but that the products are in fact never stocked when they see the bins in the bathroom.
“By mid-day they are usually gone, they just need to work on better stocking,” says Gee.
It is hard to ‘take what you need’ if there is nothing to take.
“I would never rely on the school hoping they would have tampons for me to use because they are never there,” Babb says.
After the concerns about the stocking of products, I decided to speak to some of the custodial staff of MRU to get the inside scoop on the stocking schedule that they are given.
I caught a few of the custodians on their bathroom rotation and they basically explained that they do not really have a schedule to stock the period products.
One worker even stated they only fill the period products when told to do so by their supervisor.
“If they say fill it, I fill it. If they don’t, I don’t,” says the worker.
MRU is starting initiatives to support the student body, such as the “Take what you need, when you need it. Period” program, however like any program, it may still need to be enhanced.