EDITORIAL: We support the push to add free menstrual items to campus bathrooms

Adding menstrual items to bathrooms around campus shows university cares for students


When the Student Government Association proposed adding menstrual items to campus bathrooms during its Nov. 27 meeting, the reaction on social media ranged from support to vehement disapproval.

“So, students complain that the cost of tuition is too high. So, the university is going to reduce the number of required credit hours to graduate, thus saving students money,” one commenter posted. “In exchange the students now want free menstrual products. Could I ask, why are you going to college?”

Another poster commented: “Are you kidding me? Expect the government/school to provide personal hygiene products for free?”

There were some, however, who were supportive of the action and urged Central Michigan University’s administration to look into the feasibility of providing free maxi pads or tampons in bathrooms. They pointed out the money it would save students, the inclusivity it would foster by placing them in all bathrooms and the fact that sometimes a period can sneak up on someone.

Count us among those supporters.

According to Fall 2016 statistics, more than half of students on campus are women — the predominant demographic that menstruation affects the most. By having them in all bathrooms around campus, this also is a benefit for our transgender or gender-nonconforming students who might also menstruate.

The idea of providing free menstrual items in bathrooms around campus should not be a controversial decision.

It would be ridiculous if students were expected to carry around their own rolls of toilet paper, bar of soap and handtowels. Throughout the day, it’s acknowledged that you’ll need to use a campus restroom. You can’t control that.

Menstruation is not something that can be controlled. It is not always regular in timing, nor is it the same severity each time of the month. Menstruation is something that happens. If it is in the power of the university to help those who have periods, then it shouldn’t be that much of a stretch to ask for aid.

This isn’t a new idea.

Emory University, the University of Arizona, Brown University, Reed College and the University of Minnesota all have already implemented free tampons and maxi pads in bathrooms around campus. At Columbia University, menstrual items are free upon request at their student health centers.

Adding menstrual items to bathrooms around campus would not dent the finances of the university. It would not cause for a tuition hike. If anything, it would assist students who use these items — students who could run to the bathroom and snag a free tampon if they randomly started their period during class, rather than going home to avoid potential embarrassment.

Bringing it before the Academic Senate — having faculty and staff look over this proposal — would drive the message home that the university does care for its students by providing even the smallest help it can.

Simply because an idea doesn’t benefit you directly, if you are one of the many on campus who do not get a period, does this mean the idea is invalid? The answer is no. 

If you’re one of the few saying this is a bad idea, it might be time for a little self-reflection. Good deeds shouldn’t be based on whether they only effect ourselves.

This is one good deed which could go a long way.