Vancouver Island University (VIU) and its Students’ Union (VIUSU) are breaking barriers, gearing up to offer free menstrual products in washrooms across all campuses and facilities.
Bins are being installed to provide tampons, pads and panty liners to anyone using women’s or gender-neutral washrooms, whether at VIU’s Cowichan, Nanaimo, Parksville or Powell River locations.
“This is a barrier to accessing education that VIU is pleased to be able to remove. No one should have the experience of going without these necessary products while learning,” said Irlanda Gonzalez, Associate Vice-President of Student Affairs.
VIU signed on to the United Way’s Period Promise campaign to help raise awareness about the issue of period poverty—defined as the lack of access to menstrual products due to financial limitations.
It follows a United Way BC research project released in January 2021 that found around 51% of public survey respondents had struggled to purchase menstrual products for themselves.
“Period poverty is a reality that forces many people to decide between buying menstrual products or buying necessities for their families,” noted Gonzalez Price.
“We wanted to make these products accessible to all that need them, when they need them, in a dignified and private manner. Not having a loonie or some change shouldn’t prevent you from accessing the products.”
The university is one of two post-secondary institutions in BC to sign the Period Promise Policy Agreement, committing to provide free, diverse and accessible menstrual products to employees, clients and community members.
It’s an initiative that was soft-launched last fall in the library, cafeteria and gym at VIU’s Nanaimo campus, and during this time, staff found the need was “clearly demonstrated.”
“It’s a relief to know that people who menstruate can now participate in our campus community with one less barrier to overcome,” added Cole Reinbold, VIUSU Women Students’ Representative.