UF Coalition Creates Campaign for Free Menstrual Products on Campus

Periods happen to more than half of the University of Florida student population nearly every month — yet there's still a huge taboo around period talk.

For many girls, periods are a part of life from a young age. On average, girls experience their first period between the ages of 12 and 13 — but it can happen earlier or later.

This means girls typically receive their menstruation cycle when they are in the middle school years of grades sixth and seventh. Middle school is already difficult and awkward enough; let’s just throw in bleeding for a week or so each month in there.

More than half of the student population consists of females. And this is not even counting female faculty and staff members. In order to break the stigma surrounding mensuration, a coalition of student groups — known as Gators Matter, Period. — has formed a petition to bring free menstrual products to campus. 

What is Gators Matter, Period?

This organization consists of a medley of empowering groups––the National Women’s Liberation (Gainesville Chapter), Planned Parenthood Generation Action, Pride Student Union, and the Women’s Student Association. If you believe in the cause and wish to help out, you can sign up for tabling events and promote the petition. All volunteers are welcome!

What is the campaign about? What does it mean?

This petition is not just about getting pads and tampons to be provided on campus free of charge, it is about establishing awareness of the needs of girls and fostering a community that cares for everyone's needs as a whole. There are other institutions who have already implemented free products on campus so this campaign will further encourage other schools to do the same. Change starts with a chain!

Why now?

First, why not? Any time is the perfect time to spark a change. Right now is even more perfect due to the eradication of the luxury tax on tampons and pads (long overdue but a success nonetheless). There is no excuse to turn down the idea for free period products especially because the ridiculous tax is no longer attached to the product.  If you think about it, several locations on campus provide access to complimentary condoms yet we don’t have free tampons and pads available. It should be noted that sex is a choice and periods simply are not.

As a member of Women’s Student Association, I attended the most recent general body meeting which was appropriately centered on periods. The meeting consisted of spilling period horror stories, laughing at ridiculous pad and tampon campaigns, and sharing anger over the blue liquid that has become the norm in representing blood in media. It is through these gatherings, which are designed to open conversation about topics considered taboo, that we can make others feel more comfortable talking about periods. At the meeting, I realized how significant this initiative is for female students and I wanted to know how they felt about it. After the meeting, I invited my fellow members to share a few words on the campaign.

Amber Bond, a second year political science major, believes the petition is a means of “looking out for us and considering our condition.”

I couldn’t agree more, Amber. This is the point of the campaign––to open the door for the education and discussion of periods to the entirety of the student body. This isn’t just a petition to help girls out when they get their period. It’s about unifying our community and taking care of each other.

Michelle Ospina, a third year accounting major, said “I’m glad people are accepting of women” and continued on with a slight frown to say “I feel like periods are so shamed.”

When asked if they were grateful for the initiative, Bond said she wishes “it happened sooner.”

Let’s take a stand. Period.

For more information:

Follow Gators Matter, Period. on Facebook

Click here for the petition

Interesting articles and videos:

The ‘Period Man’ Is Challenging Dangerous Myths in India

Artist Explores The Unexpected Beauty Of Menstrual Blood Using Macrophotography