DCU to provide free sanitary products to students

Christine O'Mahony

DCU is one step closer to tackling period poverty as free sanitary products are to be made available in female and gender-neutral bathrooms across Glasnevin and St. Pat’s Campus.

The news was welcomed at Tuesday’s Class Rep Council meeting, where a motion was passed and requires Dean O’Reilly, VP for Wellbeing, to provide period products (both pads and tampons) across both campuses. A delivery service will also be available to provide free sanitary products for student off campus.

“The general distribution of these [period] products through discrete and public locations brings us closer to our ultimate goal of dismantling period poverty and stigma.

“Our postal service ensures that all students including many of our students on placement and those with health and accessibility concerns, have access to the products they need,” O’Reilly said, adding that the current Provision of Period Products Bill 2021 has not progressed since February 2021.

Dr Claire Bohan, Director of DCU Student Support & Development stated: “Our mission in DCU is to transform lives and society. No student should ever have to worry about access to basic necessities. By providing this service, we are taking one more concern out of their lives and are helping those who need this service, focus on the things that matter most at University.”

There is so much shame and stigma attached to period poverty. Many are too embarrassed to ask for period products or admit that they cannot afford it. Many will rely on alternatives such as toilet paper or newspaper, as they struggle to afford the basic necessities for the time of the month.

At DCU if period products start to run out, individuals can discretely scan the QR code provided, log in the location and the Student’s Union will refill the baskets as soon as possible.

Claire Hunt from Period Poverty Irelands stated; “period poverty affects more women in our communities than we realise…it is ridiculous that period poverty exists in Ireland in this day and age it is so wrong that in 2021 people are thanking you for getting them pads.”

One must note, it is not just women who suffer from period poverty, but Trans men and non-binary individuals do also. It is significant that DCU and DCU SU are being inclusive in providing products in gender-neutral bathrooms.

VP for Community and Citizenship, Ross Boyd told The College View, that they are “working on providing period products in the male bathrooms once supply is received”.

Speaking to The College View, Emily Harford, President of Erasmus Student Network DCU, stated, “I think that the new initiative will be fundamental in assisting DCU students in need of sanitary products and in helping to end period poverty.

“It’s without a doubt an issue that many students tackle when already faced with buying expensive resources for college, travel expenses and busy schedules making their own personal needs often being left by the wayside. This will make a huge impact by curbing situations where students are caught off guard, and feel shame or embarrassment, be forced to use other items or miss out on college and daily activities because of their periods.

“It’s wonderful that the SU have implemented this scheme and I hope that in providing these products as well as discussing the impacts of period poverty, this will reduce the stigma associated with it and ensure everyone knows that it’s nothing to be ashamed about.”

The Public Relations Officer of DCU’s LGBTA Soc, Ellie Brennan, added that “free period products are very helpful in tackling period poverty as it allows students who may not necessarily have room in their budget to buy them themselves to have access to what they need during that time of the month.”

Providing free period products in third level institutions is a positive more towards eradicating period poverty amongst students. DCU now joins University College Dublin and Munster Technology University in their bid to tackle the burden it places on students.

Christine O’Mahony

Image credit: Freestock on Unsplash