Free menstrual hygiene products could soon be coming to USC bathrooms

USG Senators, vendors and administrators plan to meet in the coming weeks.

The Undergraduate Student Government is continuing its effort, now nearly three years old, to distribute free menstrual hygiene products to bathrooms across campus.

The lack of access to free menstrual hygiene products is “ridiculous and it shouldn’t be happening at USC,” USG Senator Emily Donahue said.

“The need for these products presents a financial burden that hits low-income students hardest.” she said, “But like any issue, there’s a lot of bureaucratic tape we’ve got to undo.”

The Undergraduate Student Government passed a resolution in January 2018 calling for feminine hygiene products to be distributed to bathrooms across campus. It asked for the products to be made available for free in all female and unisex bathrooms.

A sponsoring senator at the time, Mai Mizuno, told Annenberg Media the resolution was the result of a year-long effort.

But those efforts stalled when it became apparent the school’s custodial staff was not authorized under their contract to handle menstrual hygiene products.

Donahue on Tuesday said costs are another factor, because while the products themselves are not necessarily expensive, costs for the packaging and the maintenance can quickly add up.

Donahue and Senator Sara Khoshniyati are spearheading this year’s push for to distribute the products.

Khoshniyati said they are weighing several options, including a program that would hire student workers to handle them instead of custodial staff. She also said they are considering a limited pilot program to gauge student response.

Donahue said they were in contact with Project Tampon, an organization which supplies tampons for a similar program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Currently, students can receive tampons and pads for free on weekdays through the Engemann Student Health Center. Products are also sometimes available through bathrooms in the School of Cinematic Arts and the Gould School of Law.

Outside of these, the CVS on Figueroa or Target at the USC Village are the nearest places to buy menstrual hygiene products. There, the price for a 36-pack of tampons ranges from $6.99 to $9.79.

An analysis by Jezebel estimated the average yearly cost of menstrual hygiene products around $120.

Student senators hope to hold a meeting with product vendors and student health services in the coming weeks to determine their next steps.