Heather Halak dreaded having to run to the bathroom down the street when she was a UF student.
The Computer Science and Engineering building didn’t have small trash cans in the bathroom stalls for her to throw out menstrual products, she said. But Weimer Hall did.
The unplanned trips to Weimer made the now 25-year-old UF alumna late to class.
“When you’re on your period, you’re already not feeling your best,” Halak said. “And this is an added thing.”
Three years after she graduated, about 3,000 tampons and 1,000 pads will be available at both Library West and Marston Science Library by Friday.
The 4,000 products are the first order for the menstrual product pilot program, said Marston chair Valrie Minson. The products cost the George A. Smathers Libraries about $400 and will be restocked as needed until the program is reviewed in January 2020.
“The library is very careful with our funds and how we expend them, but we do take it very seriously — making academic life accessible for all,” Minson said.
Halak said providing menstrual products for students is a matter of empathy. It would have been a quick walk from her classes near Turlington Plaza to Marston in case she had an emergency.
“If someone is telling you to shut up and buy your own pads, but they’re happily getting their Viagra covered and free condoms, it is incredibly anti-feminist and misogynist,” Halak said.
A clear, tapered dispenser will be installed in the first-floor family restroom in Marston. Two dispensers will be installed on the second floor inside and outside of one bathroom for everyone to access, Minson said. Three dispensers will be in Library West in the second- and third-floor bathrooms.
UF Panhellenic Council funded the dispensers for $864, Panhellenic president Madi Rigdon wrote in an email.
The dispensers come about 10 months after UF’s Student Government Budget and Appropriations Committee voted down a proposal to use students’ Activity and Service Fee to fund the products.
SG was not involved in installing the dispensers or products in the two libraries, Chase Werther, founder of Gators Matter, Period., said. She and five other students have worked with Minson since May to get the products at the libraries.
Though Werther is excited for students to have more access to menstrual products, she said working with SG slowed the process down.
“It could’ve been done within a week,” Werther said.
A photo of tampons.