In line with recent efforts to add breastfeeding and pumping spaces across campus, UCCS will now make free menstrual products available in many women’s and gender-neutral bathrooms.
The free menstrual product campaign is a joint project between all three shared governance groups at the university: Staff Association, the Student Government Association and Faculty Assembly. Beginning in spring 2022, bathrooms in the University Center, the Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center and University Hall will be stocked with pads and tampons at no charge to students, employees and visitors. The initiative will run through at least spring 2025.
For the shared governance leaders behind the initiative, providing free menstrual products isn’t just about health — it’s about equity, and creating inclusive spaces that support all campus community members.
“Menstruation isn’t something that we can opt in or out of,” said Taylor Silbernagel, Senator at Large for the UCCS Student Government Association. “As a heavily involved student on campus, I often spend time in university buildings during classes and meetings, and periods can arrive at inconvenient times. Knowing that I could go to the nearest restroom on campus and have convenient and free access to high-quality products means that my period won’t become a barrier to my success.”
Silbernagel went on to explain that period poverty — a lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities or places to dispose of products — is an oft-overlooked issue. One in four American teenagers have missed class because they didn’t have access to menstrual health products, and one in 10 college students struggle to afford pads and tampons each month.
“I am passionate about creating equality for all so that no student has to miss out on their education because of inability to access menstrual products,” Silbernagel said.
For Sarah Long, President of Staff Association, the joint venture illustrates the power of shared governance to collaboratively address campus-wide concerns.
“The menstrual product project is a shared campaign between UCCS staff, faculty and students. We all came together for this critical initiative,” Long said.
“Although the initiative began with Staff Association, we received positive feedback from all campus stakeholders. It is part of UCCS’ culture for campus stakeholders to unite for a common cause, and it lays the foundation for the future opportunities for shared governance to come together and create meaningful change.”
The initiative will begin with a pilot phase in spring 2022, funded by the Office of Administration and Finance. As part of the pilot phase, all women’s and gender-neutral bathrooms in the University Center, the Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center and University Hall will be stocked with free menstrual products from spring 2022–spring 2023. Shared governance leaders will evaluate the project’s impact after one year.
If needed, the project will then be submitted to the Green Action Fund for continued funding, which would support efforts to stock all women’s and gender-neutral bathrooms on campus and sustain the project through at least spring 2025.
The free menstrual product project is a partnership between UCCS and Aunt Flo, which offers competitively priced, organic and sustainable menstrual products to higher education institutions and businesses. It is made possible in large part thanks to the efforts of Facilities Services employees, who will stock products and maintain dispensers across campus.