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Source: University of Otago

Campus Watch team member Annabel Cole next to the 10 pallets of products from the Ministry of Education
Do I go to class, or do I stay home?
This is a question some University of Otago students find themselves asking when their period arrives, and they don’t have any period products available.
It is a choice people are really having to make, says Campus Watch team member Annabel Cole.
In Aotearoa period poverty – a lack of access to period-related products – is addressed with a free supply of products from the Ministry of Education to secondary schools, but that assistance stops once students start at university, even though the need is still there, she says.
Feeling strongly about the issue, Cole, who has been with Campus Watch for six years, has been contacting the Ministry for a couple of years asking for some supplies to give out free to all menstruating students: “it’s very important to have these products available”.
Staff from the Ministry got in touch with her just prior to Christmas and not long after that 10 pallets of supplies arrived.
Cole was expecting maybe two pallets and says the arrival of 10 was “fantastic”.
Campus Watch is happy to deliver boxes of period products to any University organisations or departments that involve students, where they are needed.
She has been busy contacting University colleges directly.
Arana College Warden Ruben Katigbak was happy to receive a delivery of the products this week.
“Female residents who maybe struggling financially are sometimes ashamed to come forward and ask for help. Having access to free sanitary period products available around the office area is indeed very helpful,” he says.
“If we put them out here where they have access to the products, and it makes it easier for them.”
University College Deputy Warden Ange Spears says students quite often ask staff if there are any period products available, as they’ve been caught off guard or don’t have enough money to buy their own.
Not every student that goes to university has money, Spears says.
“It’s a real issue for some people, and it means different things to different people, and we have to be prepared to help.”
Cole says in the last five years Campus Watch had been gifted some period products from the Otago University Students’ Association and The Period Place to hand out to students but did not usually get donated this many. She would love to see a constant, steady supply.
It is “very important” to have free period products available and people might not be aware they can get them from Campus Watch, which is open 24/7.
Condoms are also available for free from Campus Watch.
Cole says the delivery of period products from the Ministry was a “one off”.
“But I will remain vigilant and keep trying to source a regular supply for all our menstruating students.”
Campus Watch has gifted boxes of the products to Presbyterian Support and Women’s Refuge.
 -Kōrero by Internal Communications Adviser, Koren Allpress
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