College Women Freeze Eggs

Menstrual Products Should be Free, Period

Picture this: you wake up late for class with a pounding headache and a cramping stomach. You rush to get ready and run to class. You’re finally settled into class, you’re trying to pay attention, when you look down and realize the worst. You got your period.

You run to the bathroom and dig through your bag, but alas, you don’t have a tampon. Unfortunately, all the bathroom has to offer is toilet paper and paper towels-- choose your fighter. Toilet paper it is, but you really need a tampon. Leaning over to the person next to you in class, you whisper through clenched teeth, “Do you have a tampon?”

After that person shrugs no, you mentally map out your sprint from your class on one end of campus to your dorm and back to your next class on the opposite side of campus with only 20 minutes to spare. You think to yourself, “If only AU offered free tampons in every building.”

Sweatpants Against A Wall

Menstrual Accessibility at AU.

American University’s POD markets sell menstrual products...well, sort of. They offer a small selection of either regular or super sized tampons, some in boxes of ten, and some in boxes of only two. Two tampons can be bought for $2.09, which is obviously overpriced and not useful towards people who bleed for longer than half the day.

In the past few weeks, Her Campus at American (HCAU) has been working with the Health Promotion and Advocacy Center, and has donated several kits with menstrual products that are currently available for free in Hughes 105. HPAC expects that these products, along with several kits donated by another student, will last through the rest of the year. However, it isn’t in the HPAC budget to supply them. 

At AU, the first place tampons should be made accessible is in dormitory bathrooms. As the public bathrooms in Letts, Anderson, Mcdowell, Leonard and Hughes are already stocked with toilet paper, soap and paper towels, tampons should also be seen as a necessity. They should also be available in the Jacobs Fitness Center in addition to all of the buildings that classes are held in. 

Endowment: We have the money...Why is no one listening? 

According to the American University website, as of 2018, the endowment is $708 million. AU also just concluded a large social campaign to ask for more donations in celebration of Founder’s Day.

The CFO, Vice President, and Treasurer of American University wrote a letter about the use of money AU received in its endowment with information taken from the annual finance report in 2017 and 2018. The 2017-2018 letter states the money that has been donated to AU will be used for infrastructure and to provide greater opportunities for research and teaching. The money was also used to make AU the first urban campus and research university to achieve carbon neutrality. However, it begs the question, can menstruating students really thrive, research, and learn when they don’t have access to menstrual products?

“It is an exciting and exceedingly productive time for our community,” the letter states. It is neither exciting nor productive when a large portion of the student population is forced to leave class because of their period. So, why hasn't a portion of the $708 million been used to provide students with free menstrual products? 

AU Could Provide Free Menstrual Products, If They Wanted. It’s Been Done Before.

HCAU’s online petition in February of 2017 launched a pilot program for free menstrual hygiene products in Women’s and Gender Neutral Restrooms. The program is no longer currently active and never expanded to men's restrooms. Information on this program was scattered and inconsistent, with no clear answer as to why it stopped. 

Tampons

AUSG’s Current Stance On the Situation.

According to a senator in AUSG, “There is nothing [officially] in the works yet,”. HCAU appreciates the efforts of AUSG to make AU a welcoming community to all, but we urge them to write a resolution that creates a more sustainable program for free menstrual products.  

Let's Join the Ranks of Other Groundbreaking Schools. 

Several other schools have started programs to offer free menstrual products to their communities including, but not limited to, Harvard, Yale, and Colombia University. Yale had previously created a program to offer these products to two of their residential buildings, and after that success, this program expanded to all 14 residential buildings. Since 2018, Harvard has been supplying menstrual products due to a push from the Undergraduate Council in 2016. Columbia is focusing on high-target bathrooms that are most frequently visited throughout the school day, and estimates that this will cost about $14,767 annually. In addition to this, Colombia has about 20,000 more students than American with 33,413 enrolled. Even if the difference in population wasn’t accounted for, $14,767 is only .00002% of American University’s endowment. 

Tampons

Menstruation is Becoming Less of a Stigma All Over the World.

Scotland is Now is a global marketing campaign funded by the Scottish government and tweeted on Feb. 25, “In 2019, Scotland became the first country in the world to offer free period products to students at all levels of education. But that was just the start. Today, a bill has passed in the Scottish Parliament to make period products free to everyone.” 

The Scottish government estimates the cost to implement the legislation at £24 million annually, which is about 31 million USD, according to an NPR article from Feb. 27.

The menstrual movement is active all around us in different schools and countries, so it’s about time that AU contributed to what is becoming a worldwide effort. 

Let's Level the Playing Field. 

Period justice isn’t even simply a women’s issue, it’s a trans issue and it’s a social justice issue. The stigma surrounding menstruation influences the ideology that periods are gross, shameful, and exclusive to women. When in reality, menstruation transcends binaries as female anatomy isn’t a prerequisite to womanhood and vice versa.

The mission statement released by Period.org, a menstrual movement with over 600 registered chapters in the U.S., argues that “It is a fundamental human right to be able to discover and reach your full potential regardless of a natural need, and what could be more natural than menstruation? Simply put- menstrual hygiene is a right, not a privilege.” 

American University boasts their status as one of the most politically active schools in the country. However, dorm bathrooms and several buildings still don’t supply these basic products. When your ability to leave home, attend classes, and go about your day depends on access to menstrual products that aren’t provided for you, your body becomes a political battleground. 

 

Source: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

Photos: Her Campus Media Library