All menstrual hygiene products should be available for free in public bathrooms at BGSU. If a student is suddenly in need of a liner or tampon, they shouldn’t have to stress about if they have a quarter or if the machine in bathrooms is actually filled with products.
Everyone that menstruates should have period equity on our campus. With the relatively low incomes that average students make while on campus, less access to stores with a wider variety of menstrual products and the financial impact that the coronavirus pandemic has caused means that we need to begin changes in public spaces on campus for the overall public good of our community.
Without including other genders and gender identities, the majority of BGSU undergraduate and graduate students are women, outnumbering men by over 2,500. This statistic, including nonbinary and trans students that menstruate, would tip the scales further in this already large majority. Thus, because a majority of the population of our community needs these necessary hygiene products, we simply should make access to them more convenient for all.
According to Forbes, a quarter of American students struggle to access or pay for period products and that Latinx, rural, low-income and college students are most impacted by period poverty, with 51% of students saying they’d worn period products for longer than recommended and 18% saying they felt COVID had a direct impact on the schoolwork they were capable of doing during their period.
While there could be debate about the impact on university budgets to accommodate paying for stocking these products, a study shows that a university would only have to accommodate around five to seven dollars per student per academic year to achieve period equity in public restrooms.
This extremely minor price increase by universities is not unreasonable to ask BGSU to undertake. If an average of 85% of college campuses in the U.S. provide free condoms for sexual health, then why can’t universities provide free menstrual products for students for menstrual health and for items that could directly positively impact their attendance?
Stocking menstrual hygiene products for free should be as controversial as keeping paper towels and toilet paper stocked and accessible in any bathroom because it is a public health issue.