Yale first started Provided free pads and tampons in residential facilities three years ago. Now, students and staff reflect on the university’s ongoing efforts to promote menstrual equality on campus.
Since 2017, the Yale College Board has explored providing free menstrual products to students. Today, pads, tampons, and condoms are primarily available to students in the basement washrooms of their residential colleges and in two entrances on the old campus, with supplies provided by the Office of Gender and Campus Culture. Recently, the Yale Women’s Center announced a partnership with YCC to expand access to products on campus.
“We just want a really coordinated and directed effort on the part of the university to do something that increases accessibility on campus, rather than an afterthought,” said Thea Chatel25, political action coordinator at the Yale Women’s Center.
Unlike toilet paper, soap, paper towels, or other personal hygiene essentials, period products are not offered for free in college campus restrooms. Moreover, the inflationary economic climate is exacerbating the cost burden of purchasing period products, placing an undue financial burden on people who are menstruating.
As of June 9, for example, average prices for pads were up 8.3 percent and average prices for tampons were up 9.8 percent over last year’s prices.which strains many budgets. In a fall 2017 survey, YCC found The purchase of menstrual hygiene products constituted a financial burden for nearly half of Yale students.
Pads, tampons and condoms in residential colleges
Right now, Yale’s Communication and Consent Educators, or CCEs, are responsible for stocking residential colleges and old campuses with menstrual products, including pads, tampons, and liners.
There are currently 57 CCEs at Yale, spread across each of Yale’s 14 residential colleges. One CCE from each college is assigned responsibility for the distribution of sexual health products at those same locations, such as internal and external condoms, lubricants, dental dams, and other supplies.
Ryan Huynh ’23, project coordinator for the CCE program, explained that the location varies by college, but supplies are often kept in residential college laundries in small baskets. On the old campus, they are located in the laundry rooms in the basements of Farnam Entryway B and Bingham Entryway D.
The frequency of resupplying menstrual products to the colleges depends on how often the products are used.
“In my experience, supplies are restocked once every 1-2 weeks, but this can be adjusted depending on the rate of consumption,” Huynh wrote to the news. “The goal is to stock these baskets at all times.”
According to Huynh, there are other spaces outside of residential colleges where menstrual products are available.
These include Yale Women’s Center and Yale Health, which, according to Huynh, have “similar programs and resources regarding the distribution of free menstrual products on campus.”
The Yale College Board partners with the Yale Women’s Center
On the Yale College Board October 2 meetingYCC has agreed to a $500 partnership with the Yale Women’s Center to improve the “quality and accessibility of women’s products across campus.”
In an email to News, YCC President Lilida Beraki explained that YWC reached out a few weeks into the school year to request this funding for menstrual and contraceptive products.
“YWC has sent YCC a detailed list of products they intend to purchase at a total cost of $500,” Brecky wrote. “Whether this is enough to achieve their goals for this year, we can’t really speak to. YWC has a much better idea of what they need and how often! Our only role in this was to fill the need that was asked of us.”
For Beraki, YWC products will be available to both residents of Yalies and New Haven, depending on YWC’s schedule for purchasing and delivering products.
Chatel expressed concern about the lack of access to menstrual products in student restrooms. In particular, Chatel referred to the current system as a “temporary approach”.
Nobody really uses it [the products provided in residential college basements] “Because he’s in a very awkward place,” Chatel said. “It kind of creates this extra stigma—why would you put it in the corner of the basement in the laundry room?”
The Yale Women’s Center is located in the basement of Durphy Hall.It is staffed all week by student volunteers, who can provide support, advice, free dental dams and condoms,” according to LGBTQ+ Resources Office website. Chatel explained that YWC’s goal in working with YCC is to provide students with access to menstrual products of a higher quality than those available at residential colleges.
In an email to News, interim director of the Office of Gender and Campus Culture, or OGCC, Elaf Almilik, wrote that product placement was decided in 2018, when YCC began working on a program to make menstrual products more available. on campus.
“If there are concerns or comments on this or other aspect, I would be happy to speak further with anyone interested,” Elmilik wrote. “In my work with the OGCC, I meet weekly with two members of the Women’s Center, and I’ve also told them I’m glad to continue this conversation.
Chatel has expressed concerns that the products currently available at residential colleges are not of sufficient quality.
“The condom [are] “Everybody often comes to the Women’s Center and tells us they want this,” Chatel said. “The condom is multicolored, no one uses it because you can go into the laundry room and see that they’ve probably been there for eons.”
Chatel hopes to use the $500 provided by YCC to make high-quality products more readily available to students. But YWC also hopes to expand this work, with YCC support.
Burky explained that YCC plans to assist YWC by supporting proposal writing and submission to management, particularly in connection with their goals to make Plan B more widely available and to offer better quality brands of menstrual and pregnancy resources on campus.
Chatel compared efforts to get sexual health products accessible at Yale with programs of peer institutions — such as Middlebury and Harvard — who offer the products to students in the restrooms for free.
In 2017, Middlebury College 54 tampon dispensers on campus were converted to “free dispensers”. In addition, since 2019, A variety of menstrual and sexual health products are provided in the new and second year dorms at Middlebury. Likewise, at Harvard, In fall 2017, the College Board allocated $1,000 for a pilot program in the new dormswhich was expanded to four upper-class homes by the end of that year.
“We are now sort of evaluating different policy proposals [with the YCC]Chatel said. “The ultimate goal is to push the university to make menstrual products available in all bathrooms on campus.”
Menstrual products at other campus locations
These ongoing efforts to bring period products into student restrooms are reminiscent of the initial proposals promoting menstrual equality—even before the CCEs got involved.
Melanie Boyd, Yale College Dean of Student Affairs, writes, “It has always been difficult to support bathroom dispensers, and so YCC chose to focus on residential colleges and old campuses instead.”
According to Boyd, YCC began work on a project to make disposable menstrual products more available in 2018. The program was designed to provide free menstrual products at every residential college and on the old campus, with support from former Yale dean Marvin Chun and heads colleges.
A pilot experiment was conducted in the spring of 2019, organized by different configurations of students and staff at each college, resulting in 14 different processes for YCC to track.
In the fall of 2019, YCC asked the Office of Gender and Campus Culture if CCEs could distribute menstrual products along with condom supplies, which CCEs agreed to try. Over time, the OGCC took over the ordering process and made the system simpler.
outside of residential colleges, The Graduate Student Senate and Professionals and Women Faculty Forum has begun its program To place free period products in Stirling Library toilets. Instead of relying on students to restock baskets or bags outside frequently visited spaces, they rely primarily on product dispensers that are installed directly in bathrooms.
Accessibility in Sterling – and around campus – is paradoxical. These dispensers are often present but not jammed or broken.
News visited 10 different bathrooms in five buildings on campus on October 21. One of 10 bathrooms offered menstrual products.
Huynh encouraged students with questions or concerns to contact the designated CCEs at their residential college.
The Yale Women’s Center is generally open Sunday through Thursday during the evening.