Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

Journalism's Future ... Now

The Mānoa Mirror

State lawmakers consider bill addressing period poverty on college campuses

HB 2177 proposes free menstrual products for University of Hawai’i students
Josslyn Rose
The Aunt Flow period product dispenser in the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Warrior Recreation Center bathroom is among other malfunctioning dispensers across the Mānoa Campus Center. Audio Description: A large metal period product dispenser hangs on the wall. The name “flow” appears across the top in a cursive font. A clear screen shows the period products inside. An drawing outline of a pad is on the middle right, with an outline drawing of a tampon on the middle left. Two buttons are beneath the dispensing slots. The words “FREE . GRATIS” appear on the bottom. Next to the dispenser is a sign that reads: “7/10/23 UPDATE: Aunt Flow Period Product Dispensers. Free-vend pad dispensing has been interrupted at the Campus Center Complex by malfunctioning dispensers. We are in contact with the vendor to find a remedy. The tampon dispensing mechanism seems to be operable. Until further notice- Period Products are also available in the SLD Office in Campus Center 208. Thank you for your patience and understanding.” Beneath these words are the Food Vault Hawai’i logo and a list of Flow Free-Vend Dispenser Locations in a smaller font.

The Hawai’i State Legislature is tackling an issue that affects nearly half of Hawai‘i’s population: period poverty, or the inability to access menstrual products.

HB 2177 would require the University of Hawai‘i to provide free menstrual products to students on all campuses to relieve health issues, limited participation, and absenteeism. However, concerns over funding and implementation could prevent the bill’s passage.

The bill has received overwhelming support in written testimony.

“The free provision of menstrual products is vital for ensuring the health, dignity, and full participation of menstruators,” wrote the Hawai‘i Women’s Coalition.

Many university students who would be directly impacted also support this measure.

“I didn’t choose to have a period,” said Sierra Praiswater, a psychology major at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Like others, Praiswater has experienced not having a menstrual product when she needed one.

“It puts you in a really awkward situation and unhygienic situation,” said Praiswater.

The University of Hawai‘i has already made some efforts to address the issue. On the Mānoa campus, they have faced challenges partnering with Food Vault Hawai‘i to provide period products in some bathrooms.

“Individuals are wasting the period products in two of the three men’s restrooms where the dispensers are installed,” said Bonnyjean Manini, the Faculty Director of Student Involvement. “While we have put up signage to help educate the individuals, so far this has not stopped the waste.”

Providing free menstrual products could also come at a large cost to the university. In written testimony, Debora Halbert, Vice President for Academic Strategy in the University of Hawai‘i System, requested $1 million be appropriated to implement the measure.

This legislation would follow in the footsteps of SB 2821, which required all Hawaii public and charter schools to provide students with free menstrual products. Its passing in 2022 made Hawaii the sixth state to do so.

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About the Contributor
Josslyn Rose
Josslyn Rose, Contributor
Aloha! My name is Josslyn Rose and I am a freshman Journalism student at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. I look forward to combining my passions for writing, reading, and public speaking to cover news across the state.

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