The University’s Liberal Democrat society have launched a petition calling for the free provision of sanitary products on campus.
As well as pushing the party’s national policy of demanding schools provide free sanitary products to girls, the student political society is keen to make an impact locally, by launching a university-focused initiative.
— Soton Young Liberals (@LibYouthSoton) November 19, 2017
In the petition statement, Samuel Harris, Campaigns and Policy Officer for the society, outlined why the society is taking this stance regarding the provision of sanitary products on campus:
We feel as a society the cost of sanitary products at the university is too high. The cost is currently £3 for a pack of tampons in the toilets, and a similar price in the Susu shop. We feel that the University of Southampton should follow the example of other universities, and offer its students free sanitary products
Citing research by Plan International UK which found that 1 in 10 girls at school are affected by period poverty, Mr Harris also addressed in the petition statement the general subject of period poverty:
Imagine you’re in school or university and you start bleeding, unplanned, and you have no money and no suitable products with you. What would you do? … I have no idea how I would cope, and what I would do other than run out the room and hide as fast as I could. Now add to this if you’re from a poorer family, or a family that is having short term cash-flow problems and you physically can’t afford to buy sanitary products – what would you do then?
Period poverty has of late become a significant political issue in the UK, thanks in no small part, to a petition on Change.org by then Goldsmiths, University of London student Laura Coryton, to end the 5% tax on tampons due to their classification as ‘luxury, non-essential items’.
The petition gained more than 320,000 signatures. In the face of such strong public pressure, the Conservative government have promised to eventually abolish the measure once Brexit has been completed (being part of the EU complicates changing tampon’s tax status from a ‘luxury, non-essential item’).
In the meantime, all money raised from the tampon tax – some £12 million – is being donated to charities supporting women and girls, particularly those suffering from violence and domestic abuse. While some controversy has arisen over a portion of the funding going to a charity which is opposed to abortion, the Tampon Tax Fund has been broadly welcomed as an interim measure.
The Liberal Democrat society plan to hand the petition related to the provision of free sanitary products on campus, to the student union in the new year.
The petition can be viewed here.