CUSU to provide cheaper sanitary pads

Shilpita Mathews 6 February 2015

CUSU (Cambridge University Student Union) is contemplating providing sanitary pads and tampons to students at subsidised rates.

In a post on their blog, CUSU Coordinator, Jemma Stewart suggested that CUSU “can sell them [tampons] for as little as 9p each, or £1.85 for a box of 20 – and similar savings for sanitary towels too”. Stewart explained, “We have the ability to bulk buy sanitary products at a much lower price than is currently available in a shop and are therefore looking into selling them on for cost-price”.

The high prices of sanitary products are due to the fact that they are classified by the government as a “non-essential, luxury item” and so 5% VAT is enforced. Amelia Horgan, CUSU Women’s Campaign Sabbatical Officer explained: “For people who menstruate, tampons, pads and cups are definitely not a luxury we can go without. We also know that Cambridge is a notoriously expensive city, and our student loans often barely cover our rent.”

Many Student Union shops in other universities address this issue by providing subsidized and even free sanitary products. However, “CUSU doesn't currently have a proper shop, as with other Student Unions, and we don't have enough funding to be able to give out sanitary products for free (in the same way that we currently receive funding to give out free sexual health supplies)”, explained Stewart.

CUSU is soon to send out a survey to learn more about student views on this proposal. “All we need to do is find a distributor and get information from students about what types of products they want us to sell on,” added Stewart.

Horgan expressed optimism saying, “Hopefully CUSU's plans for cheap tampons and pads will help reduce the huge financial pressure on students, and send out a clear message that periods shouldn't be so bloody expensive.”