Restrooms across the University of Oregon campuses were outfitted with a new feature over the summer to make menstrual hygiene products readily available. Dispensers can be found in almost all bathrooms, regardless of gender, and supplies are free.
“Access to menstrual products is a dignity and equity issue,” said Deb Beck, associate vice president and executive director of University Health Services. “Making supplies easily accessible helps meet the basic needs of our UO community members and destigmatizes menstruation.”
Research shows that lack of access to menstrual products can be disruptive, particularly in educational settings, and many people struggle to afford supplies. This disproportionately affects people of color, those experiencing disabilities and those experiencing poverty.
Menstrual hygiene is recognized as a public health issue. In 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 3294, the Menstrual Dignity Act, to alleviate some of the economic strain and experiences of shame that often are barriers for menstruating students accessing their education.
Deborah Butler, associate vice president for campus services, said joining the public health initiative aligns with the university’s commitment to equity and inclusion while also meeting the state’s requirements.