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Mount Saint Vincent University to offer free pads, tampons on campus

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Mount Saint Vincent University to offer free pads, tampons on campus
WATCH: Free menstrual hygiene products will be available on Mount Saint Vincent University‘s campus in Halifax this coming school year. As Steve Silva reports, MSVU joins Saint Mary's University and NSCC in offering free menstrual products at its campus – Jul 31, 2018

Free menstrual hygiene products will be available on Mount Saint Vincent University‘s campus in Halifax this coming school year.

“We definitely see the value in ensuring availability of necessary menstrual health products for students who need them,” said university spokesperson Gillian Batten in an email on Tuesday.

The products will be available in “every major building on campus with signs in all washrooms advising of these locations,” she said.

READ MORE: One-third of young Canadian women can’t afford menstrual products, report finds

The push for the university to provide pads and tampons on campus came from the Mount Saint Vincent University Students’ Union.

Nikki Jamieson, the union’s president, called the move by the university “very significant,” and she noted the union has already been offering these products via donations and its own dime.

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The union will continue to lobby for the products to be made available in all campus washrooms, she said.

“We don’t see it any different from paper towel or toilet paper. It’s a bodily function. It should be quite easy to stock them in the washrooms, just like any other product,” Jamieson said.

Batten said the locations of the products will be well known.

“It was felt that the best means of monitoring and managing the supply and demand would be through single distribution locations in each major building – particularly as we roll-out this new initiative,” she said.

The university will top up supplies of the products when needed, and a total cost won’t be determined until the year is over, Batten said.

Emma Hazelton, a recent graduate of the school, said she’s pleased that the university will offer the products, given their costs.

WATCH: $15 box of tampons raises questions on gender bias in pricing

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$15 box of tampons raises questions on gender bias in pricing

Hazelton said she sees a possible benefit of the products being located outside of washrooms, namely for transgender students.

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“It’s helpful to have somewhere you can get it without having to get into a bathroom that you don’t identify with,” she said.

Jamieson said she hopes the university’s move will inspire other schools, businesses, and organizations to follow suit.

Several Halifax post-secondary schools were asked via email if these products are available for free on their respective campuses.

“Students at NSCC’s 13 campuses can access free menstrual products through the College’s Student Association-run food banks. While availability of specific products is based on donations, all food banks offer a variety of personal care products throughout the year,” Kathleen Allen, associate vice-president of enrollment and student services at Nova Scotia Community College, said in an email.

READ MORE: Is tax on tampons discriminatory?

“Saint Mary’s has offered free menstrual products for several years, as needed, through Student Health Services. This will continue this year. It is not intended as a replacement for purchasing products throughout the school year,” Saint Mary’s University spokesperson Cale Loney said in an email.

Dalhousie University spokesperson Sarah Dawson said in an email that that information wasn’t immediately available.

“Based on the announcement at MSVU, the Office of Student Experience at NSCAD University has initiated discussions with SUNSCAD, the Student Union of NSCAD University, to explore the possibility of a similar program,” Jim Barmby, the associate vice-president of student experience at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, said in an email.

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In an statement requested and received on Thursday, University of King’s College bursar Bonnie Sands said: “The University of King’s College Board of Governors approved King’s 2018/19 operating budget on June 21 and it includes $3,000 to provide menstrual health products to our students.”

Marquan Jones, a second-year student at the Mount, said people from different countries may find the products’ availability on campus “strange.”

“It’s kind of like an expression of our culture.”

Correction: A previous version of this story contained a quote attributed to University of King’s College when it should have been attributed to King’s University College. That portion has been removed and replaced with a response from University of King’s College. Global News regrets the error.

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