UCLA now offers free menstrual products in all campus restrooms, including men’s, because people who do not identify as female also menstruate and need these products.
A law signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsome last Oct. requires all public schools and universities in the state to provide free menstrual products in bathrooms. The law takes effect at the start of the 2022-23 school year, and aims to break the “vicious cycle of period poverty.”
A study shows that 14.2% of college-aged women could not afford needed products in the previous year. A byproduct of this is higher rates of moderate to severe depression. Jennifer Wagman, an associate professor of community health sciences, says the new California law should correct some health disparities related to reproductive rights.
UCLA, it appears, is going above and beyond what the law requires.
Tayloneei Jackson, UCLA’s Student Wellness Commissioner for undergraduate students, says it is critical to “prioritize inclusiveness and supply all bathrooms, including men’s.” Jackson, a senior biology student, added that menstruation is not a gendered issue, and that future students will look back on this time and see “the fight, the passion and the determination” that activists put into the cause.
Microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student Isabel Light notes that the next step is providing students, presumably of all genders, with reusable menstrual products. To be in line with the UCLA Sustainability Committee’s goals, Light says university-supplied menstrual cups, pads and period underwear should be sustainable and capable of being used repeatedly.
UCLA student and menstrual hygiene director of BruiNecessities, says it’s the responsibility of the university to provide the products. Her group is out there working towards “destigmatizing (and) degendering periods.”
And it’s not just in California. Two Princeton groups, Princeton Students for Reproductive Justice and Princeton Students for Gender Equality recently held a “Menstruation Celebration.” This has become a yearly event on campus, and the organizations use it for, among other things, urging the end of referring to menstruation as a women’s issue.
Their reasoning is that “transgender and non-binary people get periods as well.” And one student did make an absolutely valid point — it will be quite interesting to see how future students look back on this time.