Invited by the University of Birmingham Conservatives, controversial backbench MP Jacob Rees-Mogg visited campus on Friday 9th March, speaking about his views on free speech, housing, mental health, Russia and tuition fees to a packed lecture theatre of around 300 students.Written by Erin Santillo & John Wimperis on 16th March 2018
Guild’s ‘Free Periods’ Campaign Returns
Students who have periods are once again able to collect free sanitary products from the Guild
Tampons and towels are available from boxes at reception and in the women and non-binary toilets in the Guild. Students who have periods are invited to take from these boxes what they need. Students can also obtain a week or month’s supply if they go into Guild Advice, which is open from 10am to 4pm in term time.
There have been reports that some of these boxes had been broken, which Guild President Ellie Keiller said was ‘such a shame’. She told Redbrick that this was ‘not only going to cost the Guild money (that we’d rather spend on you) to replace them, but people who really do need these products available to them for free, are going to be put out by some selfish individuals’.
“People who have periods spend over £18,000 in their lives on period products and connected expenditures
One student told Redbrick that period products were a necessity and that this will be ‘such a relief for poorer students who need [period products]’. She also added that ‘it’d be so convenient, if you get caught off guard, to know that there are some nearby that won’t cost anything’.
In announcing the return of the campaign, the Guild stated that ‘we don’t want your student experience to be adversely affected by the cost of menstruating’. They cited the statistic that people who have periods statistically spend over £18,000 in their lives on period products and other connected expenditures.
This statistic comes from research which found that periods cost the people having them an estimate of £492 a year. This includes not only sanitary products but also replacement underwear, extra food, and pain relief. Over 91% of those surveyed said they needed to purchase pain relief to deal with their periods.
The need for free sanitary products has been exacerbated in recent years by the government's commitment to the 5% VAT rate on sanitary products, expected to raise £12 million (according to gov.uk). A recent controversy has arisen over anti-abortion charity Life being listed as an official beneficiary of the tax. Life has been granted £250,000 of funding for a project to 'support vulnerable, homeless or at risk pregnant women who ask for their help' according to a spokeswoman speaking to the Independent.