British Columbia

Thompson Rivers University to supply free disposable menstrual products in all its washrooms by September

The products, which will be collected through the United Way's Period Promise campaign, will be available by September in all washrooms on the university's Kamloops and Williams Lake campuses.

Products will be collected through the United Way's Period Promise campaign

Thompson River University has announced it will provide free mentrual products in all of its washrooms on its Kamloops and Williams Lake campuses by September. (Photo courtesy of Thompson Rivers University)

Thompson Rivers University announced Tuesday it will dispense free tampons and menstrual pads in all its campus washrooms in an effort to reduce "period poverty" and de-stigmatize menstruation.

The products, which will be collected through the United Way's Period Promise campaign, will be available by September in all washrooms of the academic buildings on the university's Kamloops and Williams Lake campuses.

"This is an easy step that TRU can take to ensure everyone in our on-campus community feels safe and welcome," said Warren Asuchak, the school's associate VP of campus infrastructure, sustainability and ancillary services.

A statement from the school says the estimated cost of providing these products is "$1.25 per month per person who would use them," and that while costs may vary, the cost is minimal compared to the impact it will have.

Smaller school, big precedent

Mackenzie Francouer, the VP of equity with the TRU Student Union, said that after pushing hard for these products to be made accessible, the school's decision to supply them is "really just surreal."

"We've worked with the university's facilities department to have these dispensers … set up," she explained. "Period poverty is something that we've known for years is an issue."

The school says it's the first university in B.C. to make these hygiene products permanently available in all of its academic washrooms, including all men's, women's and gender neutral washrooms, and not as part of a pilot project.

The University of B.C. says it has installed dispensers of free menstrual products in a large number of campus washrooms since 2019, while the University of Victoria said it would be doing the same in a pilot project in late 2019. The University of Northern B.C. recently announced plans to do the same this fall. 

Francouer said she hopes that TRU, as a smaller university, can help set a precedent for other schools by showing that "this is something that can be done."

Katie Neustaeter, the executive director for United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo, said she's thrilled to launch the charity's second campaign to collect 500,000 tampons and pads to be given to people in need. 

"Last year, businesses just came out in droves to put boxes in their [stores] and collect items," she told the CBC. "The need has increased during the pandemic, so we're … hoping the community will rally behind us again this year."

Neustaeter said that organizations dispensing the collected products last year ran out of them faster than anticipated, and those they served showed "endless gratitude" for the service.

Clarifications

  • This story has been updated to clarify that, according to TRU, the university will be the first in B.C. to make menstrual products permanently available in all of its academic washrooms, and not as part of a pilot project.
    May 12, 2021 1:17 PM PT

With files from Adam van der Zwan and Daybreak Kamloops

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