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USAC expands efforts to provide free feminine hygiene products

More free pads and tampons for students will soon be available at the Arthur Ashe Center in three new dispensers outside bathrooms. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Isabella Welch

Jan. 31, 2017 1:31 a.m.

Students will soon have increased access to free menstrual products in the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council and the Ashe Center provided 1,000 free pads and tampons to students at the center in November. The products have since been depleted and in response to the program’s success, organizers ordered 1,000 more feminine hygiene products, said USAC Student Wellness Commissioner Christina Lee.

Three new product dispensers will be installed outside restrooms on three floors of the Ashe Center within the next few weeks, said Soz Mirza, SWC’s public relations director and a fourth-year biology student.

“Products will still be available on counters, but this way anyone who wants to get the products in private has that option,” Mirza said.

Geno Mehalik, the Ashe Center’s outreach and special projects manager, said the Ashe Center is one of the first locations on campus to offer this resource to students. The LGBT Campus Resource Center also provides free menstrual products.

“The Ashe Center is committed to reducing the stigma surrounding feminine hygiene products and increasing access to these essential items for half our Bruin population,” Mehalik said in an email statement.

The center is responsible for ordering and supplying the pads and tampons as students need them, but SWC will provide the funds. The funds are coming from the #UCLAwellness Referendum, which passed last spring. SWC plans to invest about $10,000 to this project in total, Mirza said.

[Related: USAC campaign aims to provide students with free menstrual products]

She added SWC does not know how much has been spent thus far, or how much the dispensers and feminine hygiene products cost, because the Ashe Center has been ordering the products directly.

SWC and the Ashe Center are working together to decide how they will split the cost of the dispensers.

SWC plans to expand the resource to the Hill.

“That is the direction we are looking toward,” Lee said. “We’ve brought this up to coordinators on the Hill, but it is still being discussed.”

Students said they support expanding access to the products.

Alyssa Perel, a third-year sociology student, said she thinks the project helps people who are busy or are unable to afford the products.

“If you need one of these products and don’t have one, it can be a really big problem,” she said. “This is a great investment, especially if girls can’t afford them or don’t have the time to run home and get them for themselves.”

Dominique Castro, fourth-year biology student said he didn’t previously think about this resource, but he said he thinks it makes sense to provide menstrual products to students, especially because there are places to get free condoms on campus.

Hillary Nguyen Pham, a first-year biology student and patient concierge at the Ashe Center, said she thinks bringing the resources to the Hill or other restroom locations on campus would be beneficial.

“A lot of people forget or don’t know that we offer these things for free here, like pads and tampons and toothbrushes,” Nguyen said. “Expanding (the project) would make it more accessible.”

Contributing reports from Raevyn Walker, Daily Bruin contributor.

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Isabella Welch
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