Our leaders over at ASLMU are attempting something that has not successfully been done before: providing the LMU community with free period products in on-campus restrooms.
While this is an issue some might see as irrelevant in the larger scheme of university life, period products are vital to those who menstruate, and they come with a high price tag. As we are in the middle of Period Justice Week, hosted by ASLMU, we must make ourselves more aware of the importance of menstrual justice and hygiene. Such education, along with providing students with free or tax-free period products, are key steps forward when it comes to gender equality on a larger scale.
ASLMU President Ken Cavanaugh has been working towards this goal since becoming president in 2019. It was one of the several initiatives on which they ran their campaign for president. After a meeting with Facilities Management (FM), the first step of this process will be ASLMU funding period products in certain bathrooms around campus, as previously reported by the Loyolan.
As our university has a food pantry for those struggling with food access and financial insecurity, we should also consider the benefits of providing free menstrual products to those who cannot afford such a basic necessity.
There is so much surrounding menstrual education that is not addressed in schools or on college campuses. There is immense cultural and social shame attached to menstruation, along with a shortage of products for those on their period at educational institutions. Through Period Justice Week, we are provided with an opportunity to expand our knowledge on such issues affecting a large percentage of our university population.
There are a handful of states in America where there are tax exemptions on feminine hygiene products, yet 35 states still charge sales taxes for menstrual products, according to Fortune. California has repealed period taxes in their budget as of 2019, as reported by the New York Times.
Period poverty, as defined by Global Citizen, is the lack of access to “sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities, and, or, waste management.”
As a private university where students are paying high tuition prices, we must be able to provide those menstruating with the products they need. At LMU we have more female students than male, according to Forbes. If we are unable to provide free menstrual products, the university is sending an open message to students who experience periods that their needs aren’t important.
The growing movement for gender equality around the world often begins with providing those menstruating with basic necessities. The message LMU would be sending us if free period products are provided would be a powerful and important one, where the education of the whole person includes the rights of people who menstruate.
Menstruation still remains an extremely taboo topic in society, and while many would rather talk about anything else, ASLMU is breaking the norm by addressing the issue of menstrual hygiene head on.
The Loyolan couldn’t be more proud to stand in solidarity with the efforts being made, and regardless of the outcome we promise to fight for menstrual justice and hygiene through our role as student journalists.
Furthermore, we urge you to use the remainder of this week to continue to educate yourself and those around you on menstrual health and justice through events such as the Health and Wellness Panel on Thursday, Oct. 17, the Fashion Society Fashion Show on Oct. 18 and the Fitwell Fun Run on Oct. 19.