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Free menstrual products at Douglas College a step forward to mitigating period poverty

Fifty dispensers have been installed in bathrooms at both the Coquitlam and New Westminster campuses.
Free menstrual products are now available in Douglas College bathrooms at both its Coquitlam and New Westminster campuses.

A post-secondary institution in Metro Vancouver is joining the fight to end period poverty.

Free menstrual products are now available to Douglas College (DC) students, staff and visitors, the school announced on Wednesday (April 6), with dispensers installed in every bathroom at its two campuses.

Combined, the Coquitlam and New Westminster facilities — including the Anvil Office Tower — have 50 male, female and gender-inclusive washrooms.

A dispenser with tampons and pads has been placed in each one of them as of March 25.

"At Douglas College, we take pride in making our spaces equitable for students, and these new machines are a critical new piece of that infrastructure," explains DC spokesperson Patty Hambler.

"We want our students to have what they need to take care of themselves, to ultimately learn and thrive." 

The DC student union first proposed the idea to make period products free to everyone on campus.

According to research cited by the organization, nearly 50 per cent of post-secondary students lost class time because they didn't have the menstrual products they needed.

That joint study was conducted by DC instructors Dr. Selina Tribe (Science) and Dr. Lisa Smith (Sociology).

Before two weeks ago, coins were needed to dispense period products in DC bathrooms and only a limited free supply was offered through the student union.

"With this, the College joins a rising movement in post-secondary schools across B.C. to fight period poverty, or lack of access to menstrual products."

Douglas College joins Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops as the only other known institution to offer free period products in all campus washrooms.