Women’s and Gender Equity Center (WGEC) organized a menstrual product drive throughout Long Beach in order to help menstruators who struggle with period poverty. From Oct. 10 through Nov. 14, donations were accepted at various sites.
WGEC accepted packages of unopened pads, tampons, panty liners, individual sanitary wipes and menstrual cups. Donation sites were located at the Student Success Center in the Women’s and Gender Equity Center in suite 240, Bob Murphy Access Center in suite 110, The Dream Success Center in suite 290, and the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies located at the McIntosh Humanities Building in suite 820.
All products donated during the menstrual drive will go back to menstruators on campus. The period products are available in the Women’s and Gender Equity Center for free and students are encouraged to take what they need.
Women’s and Gender Equity Center programs student assistant Courtney Leos coordinated the menstrual product drive this semester. Last year, former student assistant Malaya Ollison began the menstrual product drives after seeing a need for free menstrual products on campus.
After Ollison graduated, Leos felt that it was important to continue the menstrual products drive and provide for the students in need. During the drive, she was proud to see the large number of donations students and staff brought to the center.
“Even people who don’t menstruate brought in donations because they wanted to help out,” she said. “Our cabinet is now full because of the donations, we may even need to add space to our center to accomodate all of the donations.”
After weeks of research and preparation for the drive, Leos was excited to see the drive come to fruition. With the drive, her personal goal was to continue advocating for all menstruators by using inclusive language, providing necessary products and creating a community for menstruators to rely on.
Another goal of the menstrual product drive was to help inform CSULB students and staff about period poverty and the impacts it has on college campuses.
Period poverty is the term used to describe the struggle to purchase menstrual products. In a 2021 study conducted by U by Kotex, research shows that two in five people struggle to purchase such products. This is a 35% increase in the span of three years, as compared to their previous research in 2018.
The 2021 study also stated that period poverty is excessively impacting the lives of Black, Latinx and low-income menstruators the most. The statistics say 23% of Black and 24% of Latinx people with periods are said to have struggled to afford period products in 2020.
One major factor that leads to period poverty is tampon tax. This is essentially a form of economic discrimination that occurs when people who menstruate are charged sales tax when purchasing tampons, pads and other menstrual products. Such products have often been taxed as luxury items rather than being recognized as basic necessities.
However, in Jan. 2020 the state of California passed Senate Bill 92. This exempted Californians from not having to pay taxes for diapers and menstrual hygiene products for two years. Nonetheless, those two years exceeded Jan. 2022 and tax is applicable yet again.
Jollie Hillburn, a first-year fashion design major, views this drive to be a beneficial way to help those who have no choice but to deal with periods and unfair taxes.
“Every menstruator needs period products and in my opinion, we shouldn’t have to be buying products given the fact that this is a natural part of our body that we didn’t ask for,” Hillburn said.
CSULB currently provides free period products to students who menstruate in a few restrooms across campus. However, this may not be enough for some people.
To help ease local period poverty, WGEC continues to promote the understanding of educating oneself about menstrual inequalities as well as advocating to help those in need.
“We saw a need and we’re doing what we can to make a change,” Leos said. “As long as there’s a need, the WGEC will work to address these needs on campus.”
Although the menstrual drive has ended, the WGEC offers many volunteering opportunities for people who want to give back to the community.
“Getting involved is the first step, there’s always something to do and some way to give back to those in need on campus,” Leos said. “It’s encouraging to see the number of students interested in helping out and giving back to the community.”
This article was edited on Nov. 16, 2022 for clarity.