1/27/20 University Senate, Audrey Ruple

Professor Audrey Ruple takes questions about a proposal to provide free menstrual products for University bathrooms.

Campus might be one step closer to free menstrual products in University bathrooms after faculty and staff discussed the matter Monday afternoon.

Professor Audrey Ruple led the discussion during the University Senate meeting along with senate chair Cheryl Cooky, and they took questions on the possible costs of the project and where free products would be located.

“It’s okay,” Cooky said when the senate paused before asking questions. “We can talk about menstruation.”

“One of the options that has been discussed,” Ruple said, “(was) the idea of just putting out baskets (of products).”

Senate members asked Ruple if she knew about how much the proposal would cost, as one member noted that cost might be the biggest pushback the senate receives on the resolution.

Ruple cited data from the Psychological Sciences building, which she said has been providing free menstrual products for about two years now. She said the average cost per month to stock the entire building was $27.

Purdue Student Government president Jo Boileau asked whether Purdue’s gender-inclusive restrooms would be included in the proposal, which Ruple confirmed. Director of the LGBTQ Center Lowell Kane added that the center lists all public gender-inclusive bathrooms on its website for general use.

Professor Alice Pawley suggested the senate also consider the possibility of providing small trashcans in men’s restroom stalls for transgender men who might be menstruating. Ruple agreed that was a point to discuss as far as further implementation of providing free menstrual products.

Ruple said retrofitting about 60% of dispensers on campus would cost about $20 per unit. Conversion kits for other dispensers could cost as much as $70.

Part of the difficulty lies in altering the machines so the dispensers no longer require nickels or quarters to access products.

“I don’t know the last time I had a quarter in my pocket,” Ruple said, prompting some titters from the senate.

The proposal will be discussed for a second time during the senate's next meeting in February and could be voted on or tabled for further discussion then.

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