Let’s be real here for a minute – being a broke college student and having to deal with your period sucks. Not only is Aunt Flo an unwelcome guest, she’s an expensive one too. Most women prefer to use tampons or pads to manage their menstrual cycle, but having to purchase these products can add up to a lot over time, especially for college students who are on a tight budget.
Menstrual products are a necessity for those who have periods (unfortunately, menstruation doesn’t come with an off switch). Given the fact that these products are necessary to maintain good hygiene but are not easily accessible to everyone who needs them, should the university bridge the gap by providing tampons and pads for free?
This idea isn’t too far-fetched. Just last week, the state of California passed a bill requiring middle and high schools to provide free menstrual products. There’s no reason why a private university can’t do the same. It’s not like it’s impossible to do either; the school already provides free condoms to students. Unlike tampons, however, condoms aren’t needed to take care of yourself for 5 days out of every month. That’s not to say condoms aren’t important – safe sex should be practised at all times (unless you are trying to conceive, of course) to stop the spread of STD’s. It may come as a shock to hear some interesting data recently indicated that the overall rate of STIs in Travis County has increased by 34% from 2014 to 2018, for example. However, the point is that tampons are equally as important and should be treated the same as condoms.
Further, the cost of providing sanitary products is relatively low per user. According to Nancy Kramer, founder of the Free the Tampons campaign, the cost to provide these products for a year is about $4.67 for each person. This is a far easier price to pay than to buy multiple boxes of these products throughout the year.
Having tampons available on campus makes life easier for those of us who have to deal with menstruation. For those who don’t have a car on campus, going to the store to buy tampons can be difficult to arrange, not to mention that the need for a tampon is usually immediate. What if Aunt Flo pops in for a surprise visit during a class or work, and you don’t have anything on you? You’re presented with two options: keep your mouth shut and hope you don’t bleed through your clothing, or quit whatever you’re doing to go find a tampon quickly. Additionally, having a hygiene bin in the toilets is another necessity. No girl wants to change, only to find there is isn’t one of those Phs bins around.
These concerns can be easily addressed by providing free tampons and pads in bathrooms around campus. As the organization Aunt Flow argues, why not provide free tampons in the same manner that toilet paper is provided in public restrooms? That way, students alone won’t be the only ones to benefit from free menstrual products – literally anyone on campus who needs menstrual products should be able to get them. For even greater access, these products should be as easy to find as condoms are on campus. There is nothing shameful about menstruation or menstrual products. I also think that, over time, ovulation test strips should be more widely available to help women manage their cycle more effectively. For half the people on campus, it’s just a reality of life.
The ability to access menstrual products shouldn’t have to be a luxury. The university already provides wellness services to students, faculty, and staff alike, so why not take it a step further by providing free tampons? People cannot accomplish the work they set out to do every day if they cannot take care of their bodies. For such a small cost, the university would benefit from taking these steps to take care of over half of the campus population. If Transy is truly committed to ensuring the well-being of its students, faculty, and staff, it should consider providing free menstrual products for those in need.