‘Make menstruation products more easily accessible’

Student-initiative WURbleeding aims to make menstruation products more readily available on campus.
Menstruation products should be more readily available on the campus, says WURbleeding. Photo Shutterstock

Text Ananya Doraswamy and Luuk Zegers

The students behind the initiative have launched a survey that has already been completed by some 240 individuals. So far, 89 per cent of the respondents say they are dissatisfied with the availability of menstruation products on the campus. Moreover, 96 per cent feel that menstruation products should be made more accessible, and 72 per cent call for free products.

It is not the first time that PhD candidates and students have called for better access to menstruation products, says master student Forest and Nature Conservation Evy Karstens of WURbleeding. ‘But because it was unclear to WUR how great the demand was, the issue has not been addressed in the past. Hence, we launched the survey to investigate the demand. We intend to hand the results to the university soon, hoping they will take the matter further.’

Karstens unexpectedly got her period while she was in Aurora last October. ‘I had no idea whether there were menstruation products available there, and because the place was new to me, I felt uncomfortable asking my fellow students for help.’ She ended up buying expensive tampons at the AH to go. ‘It was all very frustrating. At other universities I have visited, there were small boxes in the lavatories where menstruation products could be stored so that there would always be something available for emergency situations. Nu super professional, but it was great that there was something at least.’ After Karstens shared her experiences with other students, she found allies. ‘We started WURbleeding together to bring the matter to attention.’

Dispenser in each lavatory

The first thing the initiators behind WURbleeding did was inventory the current supply of menstruation products, says Hilde de Gaetano (who is also a master’s student of Forest and Nature Conservation and is active within WURbleeding). ‘We discovered that menstruation products are available from the front desk in some buildings but not in all buildings. Moreover, this fact is not communicated clearly. Moreover, there is a tampon dispenser on the ground floor of Forum.’ And there’s the AH to go.

Once the supply had been mapped, the survey was published online in January. The results show there is a need for a better supply of menstruation products, Gaetano says. ‘Ideally, menstruation products will be made available in each lavatory.’

Investigation possibilities

Facilities and Services is investigating the possibilities in this area in response to the survey, says communications advisor Inge Buitink. ‘Menstruation products were already available at the front desks of education buildings for emergencies. That service will be expanded to all WUR buildings so that you can always reach out to the front desk in an emergency situation.’

Large-scale availability of free products is out of the question for now, Buitink says. ‘Placing more dispensers is currently being investigated, but it is still too early to divulge any information on this issue.’ To be continued.

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