In collaboration with Brock Human Rights and Equity and Brock Facilities Management, the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) has expanded its menstrual equity project with the addition of dispensers and disposal units.
Six new menstrual product vending machines and 19 disposal units were recently installed in several high-traffic washrooms at Brock University’s main campus as part of a one-year pilot program.
Located in both female and male washrooms, as well as one gender-neutral accessible washroom, the new additions will provide Brock students, employees and visitors free and easy access to pads and tampons.
“We did not want there to be any barriers for students on campus,” said Rafay Rehan, BUSU Vice-President, Finance and Administration. “We placed the dispensers and disposal units in areas where they would be easily accessible to anyone who needs them.”
The new vending machines and disposal units were installed earlier this year in the male and female washrooms located on the 100 level of the Schmon Tower near the Guernsey Market cafeteria and Market Hall dining area, as well as the female, male and gender-neutral accessible washrooms on the ground floor (level 200) of the Rankin Family Pavilion near the main entrance to the University.
While the free products are now available in the identified campus washrooms, the Brock community is reminded that the University is in Stage 2 (Red/Control) of its own COVID-19 response framework and access to campus remains limited at this time.
BUSU’s menstrual equity project was initiated two years ago under the leadership of Joyce Khouzam, BUSU’s Vice-President, Student Services at the time. Prior to the vending machines being installed, Brock students could access free menstrual products from the BUSU main office and the General Brock store. The switch to distributing products via washroom dispensers allows students anonymous and convenient access.
“Our mission at BUSU is achieved by providing resources, services and support to enrich the student experience and fostering welcoming and inclusive student communities,” says Asad Jalib, BUSU President. “Working towards menstrual equity on campus aligns with the environment we are dedicated to creating for our students at Brock University. We’re very excited about this initiative and the impact it’s going to have on our campus.”
The vending machines also address a larger social issue of what is sometimes known as “period poverty.” Menstruation products are a basic necessity, but they can be costly for some. Vending machines in campus washrooms allow students to access menstruation products for free, just as they would toilet paper.
“Among people 25 years and younger who menstruate, approximately one third struggle to afford menstrual products,” says Rehan. “This investment was made using undergraduate student fees to provide better sanitation infrastructure and add value for students.”
Although the vending machines and disposal units were installed to benefit undergraduate students, all Brock staff, faculty, visitors and students — undergraduate and graduate — can access pads and tampons free of charge.