In another ongoing effort to address health and wellness needs across the university, CU Boulder is taking action to make menstrual hygiene products more widely available in public restrooms. Students reached out to Student Affairs and Facilities Management inquiring about the possibility of having tampons and pads supplied in more campus building restrooms, and a student-wide conversation started last summer.
Following months of planning, a pilot program for menstrual hygiene products launched at the beginning of the spring semester. Although products have been provided in at least one restroom in most campus buildings for more than 15 years—the aerospace building, Norlin Library, UMC and C4C now stock both pads and tampons in all women’s and gender-neutral restrooms. (Products are also available upon request from Wardenburg and at the Buff Pantry.) The pilot program will last four months, after which the feasibility of expanding to other buildings will be assessed.
CU Student Affairs Student Body President Kavya Kannan said the biggest need expressed by students was in buildings that are furthest away from student housing: “We need to ensure women and non-binary individuals aren’t forced to miss classes to take care of their basic necessities.”
Kannan met with Vice Chancellor for Infrastructure and Sustainability David Kang last summer to voice student feedback about existing menstrual products and to work together to address those concerns. One of the most important elements of the pilot program was to have high quality products. Student concerns about previously supplied napkins indicated that they were neither reliable nor comfortable, and students also desired tampons. The pilot now offers superior products, and the option of napkins or tampons.
The program also supports CU’s ongoing sustainability efforts: tampons include a cardboard applicator instead of plastic and are 100% organic.
Kannan praises CU’s willingness to prioritize the basic needs of students: “The past two years have been especially challenging for students. Any efforts to expand accessibility and support student wellbeing show how much the university cares about its students.”
Jessica Bradley and her team from CU’s Campus Building Services will collect data in conjunction with Student Affairs staff to assess the success of the pilot program over the course of the semester.