Canadian university adds tampon dispensers in men’s bathrooms for ‘students who menstruate’

Western University in London, Ontario, Canada, is installing 150 machines to dispense free menstrual products, including in men’s bathrooms, as part of an initiative to support “students who menstruate,” according to True North.

A growing trend across Canadian universities, the initiative, called Free the Dot, was announced in 2022, with $800,000 of funding and, along with the installation of the machines, allows students to order “pads, tampons, panty liners, menstrual cups, condoms, and dental dams to be mailed to [them] directly.”

“Menstrual products are not a luxury- they are a necessity. Period,” the page reads.

A petition on the page states, “Menstrual products are a necessity for a large portion of Western’s population, and students who menstruate, including but not limited to female, non-binary, and transgender students, require access to these products in order to move through daily life.”

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The university’s newspaper explains that the products are “100 per cent organic cotton, biodegradable and synthetic-free tampons and pads.”

In a statement to the paper, a student council member explained that the company the union selected to purchase from “aligns with the values” of the school’s program.

In March 2022, the University of Toronto announced it would install 75 product dispensers in seven buildings, providing free tampons and sanitary pads to “female, male and gender-inclusive washrooms.”

University of Toronto used similar justification for the installation of the machines, calling it an issue of “equity.”

“Access to these products is not merely an issue of convenience,” said Sandy Welsh, vice provost of students at the university.

“This is an issue of equity. Free access to these products helps to reduce financial barriers and alleviate the anxiety of being in need of a menstrual product when one is not available. These products are a necessity, and this initiative aims to ensure everyone who needs them will be able to access them while on campus,” she added.

The university has similar programs on other campuses. Over 70 “gender-inclusive” washrooms have free dispensers on the U of T Mississauga campus, while the U of T Scarborough campus enjoy such luxuries in 16 washrooms.

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