Will Douglas offer free menstrual products?

Faculty member says College is receptive

By Atiba Nelson, Staff Reporter

The deadline has come and gone for all public schools in British Columbia to install dispensers that provide free menstrual products to students in school washrooms across the province.

Under the power of the School Act, the Ministry of Education required all school boards under their jurisdiction to have policies in place to provide menstrual products to all students who require them by the start of 2020.  

The policy aims to create positive and inclusive learning environment for all students, as a lack of menstrual products may lead to decreased school attendance when students are menstruating.

During the press conference announcing the new education policy, Education Minster Rob Fleming noted “students should never have to miss school, extracurricular, sports or social activities because they can’t afford or don’t have access to menstrual products.” Citing that one in seven Canadian girls has missed school due to lack of menstrual product access—a statistic generated by a study funded by a manufacturer of menstrual hygiene products.  

Other research from America negates the claims that lack of menstrual products affects school attendance.

Regardless of the research, menstrual product access is seen by many as a right—as necessary as toilet paper.

After advocating for the provision of menstrual products in her child’s school and pushing the province to include tampons and pads free of charge to public school students, Douglas College professor Selina Tribe and Lisa Smith are pushing Douglas to do the same.

Douglas College administration has been receptive to provide free tampons and pads, claimed Tribe in a CBC interview.

Although the college features coin dispensers in some washrooms, there is currently no central location where students can regularly receive free menstrual products. Although the Douglas Students Union sometimes may have them in their office.

University students across Canada face varying landscapes with regards to the provision of free menstrual products. In the Lower Mainland, University of the Fraser Valley faculty, staff, and students are petitioning the institution to provide products free of charge—while at Thompson Rivers University students can access free menstrual products in several washrooms in the main campus library.

The University of Victoria currently offers free menstrual products in select locations across campus; however, only until the end of the 2019 to 2020 school year, as the pilot program seeks student feedback regarding whether the provision of free menstrual products is wanted, needed, or sustainable.