Mason helps fight period poverty by offering free menstrual products throughout campus 

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Free menstrual products dispenser in Peterson Hall

Those who walk into the first floor Peterson Hall women’s restroom will find a new and welcome addition – a dispenser that makes pads and tampons available at no charge. Though Peterson Hall, which houses the College of Public Health, is one of 12 buildings on Mason’s campuses that now offer these free essential items, students and faculty may be the most excited because it is a big step toward public health equality. 

"Having free menstrual products available on campus is so important for the well-being of our students and public health. My research has shown that many college students experience period poverty, and period poverty was associated with increased likelihood of reporting symptoms consistent with moderate to severe depression. Having these essential products provided at no cost can help alleviate stressors, whether financial and/or disruptions to school/classes for many students,” said Jhumka Gupta, associate professor in the Department of Global and Community Health. 

Gupta is a leading expert on “period poverty,” lack of access to menstrual hygiene products, and other unmet menstrual health needs. Her research showed that one in 10 college students experience period poverty, which can lead to increased depression. This research has also been featured in Congress to call for menstrual equity in an act was reintroduced this year

The free dispensers were placed because of the partnership of Mason Student Health Services, the Patriot Period Project, Mason Facilities, Mason NAACP, the Mason Student Government, and Aunt Flow, a company that works with universities and other companies to provide free menstrual products to students. The dispenser in Peterson Hall is one of 15 installed at the Fairfax, Sci Tech, and Arlington campuses and includes women’s restrooms and gender-inclusive restrooms. 

Earlier this year, Gupta commented on how Virginia ending a tax on personal hygiene products, including menstrual products, supports health equity.