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Update: Free menstrual product program

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A clear acrylic dispenser affixed to a tiled wall holds individually-wrapped tampons and pads
Building Services Department's pilot program is now permanent

In June 2017, the Building Services Department (BSD) launched a free menstrual product pilot program on campus in Seattle. Following a successful rollout, the offering is now an established program that provides clear, acrylic dispensers stocked with free individually-packaged pads and tampons within select restrooms across campus.

 

“We are among the first universities to implement a free menstrual product program,” said BSD Director Gene Woodard. “As a result, individuals representing many colleges, universities and other organizations are reaching out to us for information and advice as they consider how to get started in offering something similar on their campuses.”

What began with 17 pilot locations has expanded to 72 permanent locations within 60 different buildings. As new construction on campus expands, new restroom locations will be added. From the start, campus community members have been invited to share any feedback or questions through the Customer Care Team. Because of this, BSD has received messages not only expressing appreciation in how the program supports quality of life on campus, but also enlightening information on how best to refer to the program.

The pilot was initially referred to as the Free Feminine Product Program. But after receiving invaluable feedback highlighting the fact that the use of the word “feminine” is not inclusive terminology, the name was changed to the Free Menstrual Product Program to fully reflect the campus population that this program serves: cis women, transgender men and non-binary menstruators.

Conscious consumerism

An important aspect of the program centers on conscious consumerism, or only taking what is needed. This practice helps keep the program sustainable, which contributed to the success of the pilot. “The pilot program helped us study cost estimates,” said BSD Assistant Director Sattia Sear.

“There is an increase in labor (custodians checking and replenishing inventory) and cost — however, it’s quite minimal in comparison to the expense of other restroom supplies, such as liquid hand soap and paper towels,” said Woodard.

Click here to view the full list of campus restroom locations that offer free menstrual products.