A petition calling for free menstrual products in all washrooms at University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) was delivered on Tuesday – International Human Rights Day – to UFV president Joanne MacLean.
The petition with almost 1,300 signatures was handed over at the Abbotsford UFV campus by 18 people who are members of the Student Union Society (SUS) and the Faculty Staff Association (FSA) – the groups who organized the campaign, titled “Go with the flow.”
Christina Neigel, FSA vice-president of member engagement, said MacLean received the petition with thanks.
Neigel said SUS president Tripat Sandhu made it clear that the initiative is not one that either SUS or FSA will pay for because they see it as a UFV responsibility, “similar to toilet paper and the disposal of sanitary products already supplied by UFV.”
“Further, we clarified that it is our position that all bathrooms, regardless of gender, should be stocked so that menstruators who identify with any gender are not outed by being forced to choose a bathroom that does not align with their identity,” Neigel said.
The petition is now in MacLean’s hands, and Neigel said both the SUS and FSA plan to attend an upcoming board of governors’ meeting.
“With no official commitment, we will continued advocating until our request is met,” she said.
Neigel said the campaign is built on the understanding that not all people who menstruate can afford products.
“Even when they can, there are many circumstances when they may find themselves in need. To ignore these needs is to ignore social inequality and the stigmatization associated with menstruation,” she said.
Melissa Naman, the FSA human rights representative, said last week that FSA broached the possibility of UFV providing menstrual products for free at all UFV campus washrooms with administration at a labour and management meeting in 2018, and it came up again at a meeting in October.
Naman said administration had a target implementation date of April 1, 2020, but there has been no formal announcement or written commitment.
In response, the school said last week that free sanitation products are coming, but the cost is an issue and they have had several speed bumps along the way.
UFV director of student life and development Kyle Baillie said the school has been working on this project for at least two years.
UFV estimates the cost would be approximately $100,000 a year.
– with files from Paul Henderson, The Chilliwack Progress
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