Free feminine hygiene products around campus contribute to belonging

Feminine hygiene products became available for free in BYU bathrooms. While this addressed a large problem for female students, this is also a step toward belonging for all students. (Zoe Cook)

Free feminine hygiene products became available in BYU bathrooms as part of a BYUSA project. Now, the BYU community reflects on the impact it has made.

For one student, these products made the difference. Jinhee unexpectedly got her period at a crucial moment in her efforts to secure a scholarship at the BYU Law School.

“It was the middle of my LSAT,” she said. “I have this 10 minute break and then remember that there are feminine hygiene products, and it was a miracle, seriously such a relief.”

Hannah Weber, Sam Nielson and Megan Brugger founded the project. With just more than half of BYU students being female (according to BYU’s published Facts & Figures), this project has had a wide reach.

“We did focus groups with women and men and … that was something we focused on a lot … how many women aren’t going to their classes, aren’t going to take a test … because they started their period and they have to go home because they don’t have anything with them,” Weber said.

Not only is this project relevant to solving this problem, but it is also extremely relevant when it comes to belonging, Weber and Jinhee pointed out. Providing free feminine hygiene products in all the bathrooms is just one way BYU has moved towards an environment of belonging and support.

This project has also triggered a shift in custodial responsibilities. Before, restocking the feminine hygiene dispensers was not part of custodial crews’ duties. Now, because the machines are easier to restock and there is no need to remove the change, this job has been passed to custodial crews, BYU Custodial Manager Mike Montague said.

Weber also added that in her project’s analysis and original pitch to BYU administration, they found that even with the paid dispensers, BYU was losing money. From what her BYUSA group found, this was primarily because of the time it took to restock and repair paid dispensers. This meant that making the products free would not cost BYU much more than the paid dispensers cost.

Weber also talked about the amount of support that men across campus expressed for this project, including project member Sam Nielson, who advocated for the project even when his female counterparts were unavailable.

“BYU has a long history of equal treatment of men and women when it comes to enrollment, scholarships, class registration and all other normal university functions. The 50/50 population split of BYU enrollment is a testament to their success in this praiseworthy effort,” bioinformatics major Porter Nilsson said.

Free feminine hygiene products around campus address a source of stress for women all over campus, making BYU one step more accessible for women.

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