Free period products have been made available at 19 locations across campus, including Smurfit campus, in an attempt to combat period poverty.
This follows a government pledge to have period products distributed for free to schools and universities across Ireland in March 2022, however as of yet this scheme has not reached UCD. A combination of bodies, including UCD Dignity and Respect and UCDSU, have since expanded previous free sanitary items scheme further across UCD campuses, including James Joyce Library.
When asked to expand on this scheme, UCDSU Welfare Officer Míde Nic Fhionnlaoich began with an explanation of period poverty, which this scheme seeks to address. “Period poverty describes a form of poverty where the cost of your period may stop you from buying other essential items or the need to buy essential items may mean you can't afford period products. Due to the cost of period products and the fact that only a certain cohort need them, those who menstruate face an additional cost every month compared to their peers. Furthermore, period products are an essential item that people cannot go without, so those who cannot afford them are forced to stay at home, risk using toilet paper or tissue instead, or use products for longer than is safe, and are unable to go about their normal business.
“For students on a shoestring budget, it's easy to see how this comes into play. The prospect of having to miss lectures or studying because you've gotten your period or staying away from college altogether for the duration is not an unfamiliar one to many students, and with a rising cost of living it is not inconceivable that students are facing the choice of buying a box of tampons or food.”
Regarding the recent expansion to James Joyce Library, Nic Fhionnlaoich said “This came about as a fantastic collaboration between the library team and the students union. It was a simple concept, providing free period products (pads and tampons) in all the bathrooms in the library, so that library users could study in peace without having to worry about having period products. However, it did take a lot of work and commitment from the likes of Carla [Gummerson] last year and all the library staff to not only get it established, but to keep it going and then use it as an example of how free period products could be provided campus-wide.”
A list of all 19 locations can be found at ucdsu.ie/free-period-products, and can also be sourced at the UCDSU front desk.