Annenberg Radio

USC students would welcome more free menstrual products on campus

Public schools and universities in California could potentially offer free menstrual products but private universities are not included in this law. Will they follow?

California is expected to have a new law soon requiring public colleges and high schools to offer students free menstrual products. Gabriella Castania has more on this.

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The menstrual products bill is on the Governor’s desk now and waiting for approval. The law doesn’t include private universities like USC, so right now, USC students don’t know whether USC will follow it and provide free menstrual products around campus. USC student Danielle White says if this service is provided, she would feel more welcome on campus.

DANIELLE WHITE: Well, in my experience, it’s always been sort of a secret trying to go around the guys in my engineering classes to ask the women that I’m not even fully acquainted with if they have any pads or tampons. So in a way, it’s like I have to hide part of my identity as a woman. But if they were to provide said products in the bathroom, that could help me feel more appreciated and welcome as a woman.

One group that lobbied for the bill is called “Free the Period.” Melody Yan is a marketing and engagement director.

MELODY YAN: So the bill requires public schools grades six to 12, community colleges and CSUs to stock an adequate supply of free menstrual products in all women’s... or now it’s school districts with six to 12 in both girls and boys, gender-neutral bathrooms to be stocked and then for higher ed, it’s one central campus location.

Yan says the group strives to end what they call “period poverty,” or a lack of access to menstrual products and health care. And that all schools and universities should be aiming to do the same.

YAN: This is like an immediate concern for them to tackle because period poverty affects people and people of various financial and economic brackets, and it’s not always apparent, and it is a public health concern that should be taken seriously.

Yan says the bill recommends and encourages private universities like USC to also follow the law. USC student Ambrosina Cianfarano agrees.

AMBROSINA CIANFARANO: I think it would make a lot of students have a better campus experience, especially people who are low income and they don’t have as much money to spend. It would be awesome to have, like, personal hygiene products available to them for free.

The new law requiring public schools and universities to provide free menstrual products takes effect next fall in the 2022 school year.

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USC currently provides free supplies at locations including the Student Union, Ronald Tutor Campus Center, Steven and Kathryn Sample Hall, Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall, the Student Health Center, and the Musick Law Building.