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Proposed changes on campus: Free sanitary products for all

It shouldn’t be a luxury

Voting for NUSU Elections 2019 is well on the way. With candidate manifestos raising important issues such mental health support, a happier and safer campus and (most importantly) free porridge before 10am, it seems that campus changes will be positive ones. In particular, the prospect of free sanitary products universally on campus, as proposed by the Students' Union earlier this year.

Contextually, Scotland has been funding the initiative in education institutes for the last two years, with recent action to expand to other public spaces such as libraries and leisure centres. Following Scotland's example, Newcastle is the only university in England to propose a free, campus-wide supply of sanitary products.

Newcastle Students' Union and University are separate organisations when it comes to this issue. NUSU (along with many more university Students' Unions around the country) have had emergency products available in advice centres for years, however this is separate from the university, and funded by the SU themselves. The current proposal differs from this, with the campaign working towards Newcastle University entirely funding the notion, making it the first to do so. This would mean that rather than the SU having limited packs, over 1,000 products would be available on campus at any any one time, entirely free for students, funded and managed by the university.

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The Newcastle Tab contacted the current President of the SU Raff Marioni, for comment: ‘‘It was a big part of my manifesto I was elected on, societies have been hosting fundraisers around period poverty, there have been petitions and of course it’s starting to appear in wider society as well. The Scottish Government’s introduction of the initiative is a real success story and our proposal is for Newcastle University to be at the forefront of this change in England.

"While it’s only in the early stages, we’ve had positive discussions with the University and it would be amazing if a similar scheme can be introduced here for Newcastle students. Universities should be the ones leading progressive, social change, and Newcastle would send a pretty powerful message to its students and the rest of the country if it introduced free menstrual products. It would go a long way in demonstrating that the University is actually listening to the students on this campus and bringing the changes that we want."

Charlotte Boulton is Newcastle's Marginalised Gender Officer, and she told The Newcastle Tab: "I completely support Raff's proposal to get the university to provide free menstrual products across campus, something that will benefit a lot of students short and long-term. I've been involved with some of the discussions around this, providing feedback on language use and distributing surveys to see how many students would be interested in this.

"The feedback has been so positive, which shows just how important access to free menstrual care is in the minds of many students at Newcastle, and I'm hopeful that the plans come in and prove helpful to any student who menstruates and would benefit from this resource. It would be great to see Newcastle University at the forefront of this important development in health equality!"

In order to really push to make this happen, the Students' Union have opened up a survey to aid the cause. Although we are half way there, let's support final step to a universal, free sanitary product scheme.