Free pads and tampons can now be found in Moffitt Library, after the Coalition for the Institutionalization of Free Menstrual Products, or CIFMP, worked with the library to secure menstrual products in its fourth- and fifth-floor bathrooms.
The menstrual products, which arrived Wednesday, will be continuously restocked for the rest of the semester. CIFMP — a project that campus junior Emaan Siddique, its founder and president, started fall 2018 — aims to increase the wellness of menstruating students on campus by supplying and distributing free period products in different locations on campus.
The menstrual products in Moffitt are the coalition’s pilot program. Siddique said the coalition reached out to Moffitt in February to discuss the logistics of implementation. She added that CIFMP campus surveys found that the lack of accessibility to menstrual products had many negative impacts on menstruating students.
Siddique said if students get their periods unexpectedly on campus, many resort to using toilet paper, or they end up having to go home. The menstrual product distribution areas that currently exist on campus are often empty or require students to pay for the products, according to Siddique.
Siddique also noted that menstrual products are a financial burden for menstruating students.
“I believe we should definitely take the tax off of female products because it is something that we need every month. It’s super expensive,” said campus junior McCalister Russell. “All bathrooms should have (menstrual products). You never know when you are going to have an emergency.”
CIFMP arose out of Siddique’s time in the office of former ASUC senator Megha Torpunuri. Siddique and CIFMP’s Chief Financial Officer Jessica Wang and Chief Organizational Officer Karine Titizian work with multiple larger organizations that participate in the coalition, including Happy Period Berkeley and the American Medical Women’s Association.
The Wellness Fund is funding the CIFMP’s project, according to Siddique. The fund was passed by the student body in 2015 as the Wellness Initiative Fee. The fee supports wellness programming on campus, according to the Wellness Fund’s website.
“Ultimately, it is student fees that are funding the Wellness Fund, and so, students should be able to reap some of the benefit(s) of those fees,” Siddique said.
While the supply of menstrual products in Moffitt’s gender-inclusive fourth-floor bathroom and womxn’s fifth-floor bathroom is projected to last only until the end of the semester, Siddique said the continuation of the program in Moffitt will be determined based on the success of the pilot. Although the program is currently focused on Moffitt, Siddique added that she hopes to eventually provide menstrual products to the Food Pantry and other campus libraries.
ASUC External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay said access to free menstrual products on college campuses is important, especially at large schools such as UC Berkeley.
“In the middle of the day, if you need menstrual products and are running between classes, it’s next to impossible to run to Walgreens or any other pharmacy and pick up the products you need and still continue with your day in a timely manner,” Khalfay said. “(Providing menstrual products) allows students to continue their day without disruption and promotes equity for all students who may require menstrual products regardless of gender.”