Feminine hygiene product dispensers are now available in the Texas Union and soon in the Student Activity Center to offer free period products.
The initiative is being spearheaded by the UT Women’s Resource Agency of Student Government and is still in its pilot stage because the agency needs to gather data on costs, WRA director Catherine Holley said. The dispensers were placed in the Union Building in November.
“I’m happy that things are getting rolling with this, and any amount of progress is great, but WRA is very interested in … making sure that this is carried out and that our long-term goal is achieved,” Holley said.
The goal of the agency is to place dispensers in all restrooms in every UT building, including men’s restrooms for transgender males, Holley said.
Biology sophomore Madisen Pereida said she is glad the dispensers are in heavily visited buildings, but other buildings need them as well.
“I would also put one in Jester because a lot of people tend to go into Jester, especially with the two dining halls, and there’s also a lot of classes in there,” Pereida said.
The project was originally started by the Texas Orange Jackets and Mehraz Rahman, SG vice president and Orange Jackets member. Rahman worked closely with the WRA to get legislation passed and dispensers put into restrooms.
“I absolutely think that they are necessary,” Rahman said. “In the same way that toilet paper and soap are necessary for hygiene, pads and tampons are necessary for hygiene for people who menstruate.”
The same standard the University has when it comes to condoms should be applied to period products as well, Holley said.
“The University hands out condoms for free and will even deliver condoms to your door for free, so I don’t see why we cannot do the same thing for menstrual hygiene products,” Holley said.
Rahman said the products are meant for people who can’t afford them and for emergency situations. She said there is no way to tell if people are abusing the dispensers and taking more than they need until they evaluate the program.
“We’re going to look at the data at the end of the program to see what wasn’t successful, what are some measures that we could take to prevent the bad things that happen during the program, without having to take away the program,” Rhaman said.