The Students’ Association at Algonquin College is in the beginning stages of research to find out if students would like to see the campus washrooms supplied with menstrual dispensers.
Currently, Algonquin College’s Health Services is providing free menstrual products for students through Free the Tampon at the Wellness and Equity Centre, the SA Food Cupboard, the Mamidosewin Centre, counselling services on the third floor of E-Building and other locations on campus.
Jessica McCabe, the SA Food Cupboard coordinator, is leading the study and says not everyone is comfortable reaching for menstrual products in public.
“Having access to menstrual products in the washroom, it allows people to manage their cycle with dignity and privacy provides one less thing to worry about,” said McCabe.
One of McCabe’s polls resulted in 95 per cent of students agreeing it would be beneficial to have free access to menstrual products in the washrooms.
“That’s a huge number,” said McCabe. “Not everyone said they missed school or work or anything from not having access to any of those products, but the fact they could be available in those dire situations, it speaks volume.”
Kirsten Joy, a level two student in dental assisting, didn’t notice campus washrooms weren’t supplied with menstrual dispensers but thinks they should be there.
“We pay enough for different things so it’s just something that should be expected in the washrooms,” she said.
Julianne Joustra, a level two student in dental assisting, noticed there weren’t any dispensers in the washrooms, and it made her concerned.
“If I was in a situation, would I have to ask someone, would I have to help myself,” asked Joustra. “And in that situation, I wouldn’t be able to help myself.”
She didn’t know there was access to free menstrual products on campus outside of the washrooms, but thought it was “pretty awesome” when she heard someone was advocating for better privacy rights.
“I feel like the college gets enough money from us, they should definitely be free, they should be free in general,” said Joustra. “We shouldn’t have to pay for these things.”
Mairead Morrison, a level three business administration student, will be attending some classes on campus in January and would prefer to have free menstrual products in the washrooms.
“Especially having to go across campus just to grab something,” said Morrison. “If it’s more accessible that would be better too.”
She thinks it would be great if there were dispensers in all the washrooms because you never know who’s going to need it.
“It’s also inclusive of trans people,” said Morrison. “Just having it accessible for anybody, no matter who they are, if they need it. I think that would be good.”
Cameron Denny is a level one construction engineering student.
“I think it would be a good thing to have in each washroom,” he said. “Doesn’t matter which one. I’m surprised they aren’t there already to be honest.”
Devin Boudreau, a level one radio broadcasting student, doesn’t think it’s necessary to have dispensers in the male washrooms.
“If you had gender neutral bathrooms, which a lot of places are doing then that kinda solves it,” said Boudreau. “If a man really does need it for whatever reason, then it likely isn’t an emergency and they can go to health services and get it there.”
Liam Wright, a level one radio broadcasting student, grew up in a house with three sisters and says he can understand the struggle that comes with it and how menstrual products should be free because it’s not something they can control.
“With the amount of good services that Algonquin provides I’m surprised they don’t have that in place at this point already because it’s just kind of a no brainer in my opinion,” said Wright.
Wright doesn’t see an issue with having dispensers in the washrooms at all and pointed out that some women might be uncomfortable going in and getting them, whereas a guy friend could go into the men’s washroom and get a menstrual product for them.