Administrators discuss menstrual hygiene products on campus
By Lydia Staber
Many FSU students are urging administrators to provide free menstrual hygiene products in bathrooms around the University.
Rain Cormier, a junior English major, said they felt very passionate about this topic.
“The entire campus needs to get on board with having feminine hygiene products in every bathroom,” they said.
Leticia Rita Santo, a freshman ASL major, said, “As college students, we already don’t have easy accessibility to those products.”
Santos added having them free and easily available would be beneficial to students.
Sarah Burke, a senior English major, said she also thinks the campus “needs to carry” menstrual hygiene products in bathrooms for students to access.
Julia Berry, a senior English major, said she “never carries around any change” for the tampon
dispensers in the bathroom, and asked, “Why are they not free?”
Many students agreed the University should supply free menstrual hygiene products in the bathrooms around campus, including Hannah Polansky, a senior English major, who said these products should be free “100 percent.”
Shayne Durkin, a freshman Spanish major, asked, “An institution that generates millions of dollars annually can’t spend just a little extra on tampons? Really?”
Andrea Pizzotti, a junior English major, asked, “Women did not ask for this [periods] so why do they have to pay to keep themselves clean and hygienic?”
She added, “I see an issue with how there are not tampons available in campus bathrooms.”
Hannah Mace, a junior child and family studies major, said having menstrual products available would “immensely benefit the population of FSU that goes through a menstrual cycle,” adding, “It would alleviate some of the stress that comes with the cycle.”
Ainslee Caton, a freshman environmental science major, said, “Students are paying to be here and should be provided essential products.”
Ilene Hofrenning, the director of the Health Center, said the Health Center has free menstrual hygiene products for students.
“We have a supply of tampons and pads in a basket in each bathroom in the Health Center for students to take as needed. We also have a supply to give to students who come into the Health Center and ask for them,” she said.
Hofrenning said perhaps the reason the University does not supply free menstrual products in all bathrooms is due to the cost for both “the product and for staff to replenish the supply.”
Robin KurKomelis, assistant to the Dean of Students Office, also attributed cost as the reason menstrual products are not provided for free in the bathrooms across campus.
Patricia Whitney, assistant vice president of Facilities and Capital Planning, discussed where menstrual hygiene products fit into the University’s budget.
“With student enrollment down, the budget is tight,” she said.
“The question is always, ‘What are we willing to give up to fund this?’” she added. “Will we be willing to give up financial aid to fund this? That’s important. What about library books? Those are important, too.”
Whitney highlighted concern over menstrual products being stolen.
“You would be surprised what some students on campus have stolen,” she said.
Whitney said there are free menstrual hygiene products in faculty bathrooms.
She said she suggests the Rams Resource Center (RRC) for students to receive free menstrual products.
KurKomelis became the manager of the RRC last fall.
During an interview in the RRC last semester, KurKomelis pointed to multiple trash bags stuffed full of pads, along with the racks of tampon boxes.
“We have a healthy supply,” KurKomelis said with a laugh.
She added the University receives menstrual hygiene products from donations and vendors, such as Dignity Matters.
According to their website, Dignity Matters “is a non-profit organization that collects, purchases and supplies feminine hygiene products, bras, and underwear to women and girls who are homeless or disadvantaged, in order to help them stay healthy, regain self-confidence, and live with basic dignity.”
KurKomelis said Dignity Matters gives the RRC a shipment of menstrual products every two months.
She added the real problem at hand is a lack of awareness about the RRC and what is provided.
KurKomelis said the RRC is “for all students,” although she “fears” students have a misunderstanding about the services provided.
“Every student should know this is a resource for them. There are no questions asked when you come into the center,” she added.
Whitney said the “first step” that should be taken is better “communication” about the RRC and to “get rid of the stigma that says, ‘In need,’ and allow anyone to go in there.”
Pizzotti said, “I can walk down to the Rams Resource Center and grab an entire box [of tampons] without issue. If the campus can operate the RRC, why can they not supply additional resources elsewhere?”
Whitney proposed making the dispensers in the bathroom available via credit card or debit card instead of coins.
“No one carries around change anymore,” she said.
Hoffrening said, “I think it would be great if period products could be supplied for anyone who needs them on campus. I hate to think of anyone missing classes, sports, or social events because they didn’t have access to feminine hygiene products.”
She added, “I think that if there was a groundswell of vocal support for this from students, it would make a difference in whether it would become a reality.”
[Editor’s Note: Design Editor Emma Lyons and Staff Writer Abigail Petrucci contributed to this article.]