University of Wisconsin-La Crosse student leaders are hoping a small upgrade to campus bathrooms will make the university feel much more inclusive.
The UW-L Student Association passed a resolution last spring calling on the administration to add no-cost feminine hygiene products to all of the campus bathrooms. A free dispenser for tampons and sanitary pads will be installed in each men’s bathroom on campus, and the free products will also be offered in all of the gender-neutral and women’s bathrooms.
The student association came up with the idea after learning about a similar program at the University of Minnesota. UW-Madison started a pilot project to provide free feminine hygiene products in several buildings earlier this year.
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The initiative was finalized late this summer, UW-L Student Association President Jacob Schimmel said, and the order for the machines was made in the past few weeks. The cost of the dispensers and a year’s worth of products will be about $25,000 and will be covered by the facilities budget, Schimmel said.
“We’ve pushed for this to happen because there are far too many situations with folks not having products on them when they need them,” Schimmel said. “This is something that more than half the population deals with and an issue that constitutes a much closer look into accessibility for all.”
Having the products available in men’s restrooms will also increase inclusivity for those in the student population who are transitioning or are transgender. So far the response by students has been positive, Schimmel said.
Leaders of the UW-L student group College Feminists said they supported the initiative. These products are not a luxury but a necessity, said Tori Dietel, the group’s social media manager.
“Having access to these products helps women excel in school and in life without the constant worry that accompanies some during their menstruation period,” she said. “As an organization we are proud of our university and its students for taking action on this topic, and we hope that it opens the door to further conversations that need to be had about women and health.”
Having the products available in men’s restrooms will also increase inclusivity for those in the student population who are transitioning or are transgender.