Student organization aims to stop period poverty on campus

Free Pads at USC is campaigning for free menstrual products to be provided in all USC campus restrooms.

[A graphic about Free Pads USC.]

Despite USG’s 2018 resolution to provide menstrual products in USC bathrooms, most buildings still remain unequipped with the necessary period products. Four years later, progress was made when USG announced the approval of free menstrual products on campus last Tuesday. However, one Instagram account, @FreePadsUSC, started to lead the fight for these items in November 2021.

Currently, Free Pads at USC is working towards its mission through “period boxes,” which are plastic containers filled with multiple types of menstrual products for free use. Four boxes are currently available: they are located in the USC Village men’s and women’s bathrooms and the Leavey Library men’s and women’s bathrooms.

Catherine Chan, a junior majoring in global health, said this is only the first step. She founded the organization with hopes of providing free menstrual products to every person on the USC campus. The current period boxes are being supplied through Venmo donations and over $200 of her own funds.

“I’m hoping [the period boxes] will be a short-term solution,” Chan said. “What I would really want to do is campaign to the school to get period products in all the bathrooms, and not just the women’s bathrooms, but all of them. I don’t think any student should ever need to worry about that, financially or emotionally.”

Free Pads at USC is hoping to combat “period poverty,” the inability to afford, and therefore lack of access to, menstrual products, on the USC campus. A study conducted by the University of Hampton discovered that 1 in 10 menstruators in college experience “period poverty” monthly.

Recently, the Menstrual Equity for All Act was signed. This bill will require all California public schools, including community colleges and Cal State Universities to provide free menstrual products in all restrooms by the start of the 2022-2023 school year. However, this bill has no effect on private institutions such as USC, meaning USC restrooms can continue to not provide menstrual products.

“Lack of access to affordable and hygienic menstrual products is a public health problem,” Chan said in an Instagram post. “Our goal is adequate menstrual health for USC students, meaning ‘complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in relation to the menstrual cycle.’”

In hopes of furthering Free Pads at USC’s reach on campus, Chan partnered with USG Senate candidates, Devin Ayala and Nayva Singh.

Currently, Free Pads at USC is working to become a Recognized Student Organization. To become a member, DM @freepadsusc on Instagram or email

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that no progress had been made toward the goal of free menstrual products by USG since 2018.