Students can now get free menstrual products at the Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center.
Pads and tampons are available at the first-floor solutions desk and the clinic desks on the first, second and third floors of the Ashe Center. The undergraduate student government Student Wellness Commission and the Ashe Center partnered to provide the products because they wanted to destigmatize menstruation, said Student Wellness Commissioner Christina Lee.
Lee said she thinks UCLA is the first school on the West Coast to provide free menstrual products through a student-funded, student-initiated project. She added the project is part of her platform to promote body autonomy.
The project was funded by the #UCLAwellness Referendum, which passed in May. SWC will spend $10,000 of the funds it received from the referendum on menstrual hygiene products.
The organizers chose to provide the menstrual products at the Ashe Center because they think it is a safe, hygienic and comfortable space for students to go, Lee said.
“The Ashe Center is located in the Student Health and Wellness Center, so it seems natural to have students get their menstrual products from there,” she added.
Lee said she hopes that in the future, students will be able to choose where they receive free menstrual products on campus. The Ashe Center also provides free pads and tampons through the LGBT Campus Resource Center.
“We don’t want it to be a competition,” Lee added. “It’s just wherever students feel more comfortable going to.”
Soz Mirza, the public relations director of SWC and a fourth-year biology student, said she thinks it is important to have free menstrual products available because they are a part of reproductive health.
“We hope to make sure people understand the consequences of menstrual cycles, not only the negative but also the positive, (and) what it means to your body,” Mirza said.
She added the organizers want the project to be as inclusive as possible.
“Essentially half of the student population (needs menstrual products),” Mirza said. “We’re not trying to limit it to only female students, we want to make sure any students can have access to it.”
Mirza said she hopes students will limit themselves to only three products per visit.
“We’re using this quarter as a trial period because we don’t quite know yet how much product in total we need,” Mirza said. “We hope to measure that over the next few months and address (the demand) accordingly.”
Natalie Isayan, a first-year English student, said she thinks providing free menstrual products will promote reproductive health.
“More often than not (menstruation) is not acknowledged and people tend to say it’s a ‘woman’s problem’ and that they should just deal with it,” Isayan said. “If they’re providing free condoms they should also provide free menstrual products. We shouldn’t be burdened by something we can’t control.”
Kevin Perez, a second-year human biology and society student, said he thinks the project is a great way to help students save money.
“(I won’t be using the products), but if a friend asks me to go get her some then I’ll know where to get some for her,” Perez said.
Lee said the organizers plan to install menstrual product dispensers in one women’s and one gender-neutral restroom at the Ashe Center next quarter to promote inclusivity.
“We hope other schools also follow in these footsteps, and get the conversation going,” Mirza said. “We hope (this) becomes a product that will be available to many college students.”
Contributing reports from April Hoang, campus politics editor.