Every dorm on campus provides toilet paper for student use, which is highly useful for the students living in those dorms, but toilet paper isn’t the only bathroom necessity for more than half of the university population.
According to U.S. News, 59 percent of UCA students identify as female. And most women need menstrual products.
Menstrual products are a big cost for women. According to a Medium article, menstrual products cost between $400 to over $2,000 over the course of a woman’s lifetime. Cheaper options include menstrual cups and absorbent underwear, but those are highly dependent on the woman’s individual preferences, so it would make more sense feasibly for universities to provide pads and tampons.
The cost of menstrual products coupled with the amount students spend to live on campus really adds up. Not only do these students living on campus pay for tuition and fees, but they also pay for room and board and a meal plan. These costs are especially consequential considering the cost of tuition, room and board at UCA has consistently risen higher than the average annual inflation rate, according to data taken from the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inflation Data.
It’s not as if women can choose not to have periods. This is a necessary cost, and providing pads and tampons would help offset the cost of tuition, room and board for the women having to buy these products separately.
Several women’s bathrooms on campus have dispensers for tampons and sanitary napkins, but these items cost 25 cents each. This is above the average cost per product. If a box of 36 tampons costs about $7 at Walgreens, that’s
19 cents per tampon, and if a box of pads costs about $6, that’s 17 cents per pad. It is also highly inconvenient. Often, women need something to staunch the flow as quickly as possible and having to beg their female friends or even strangers for a quarter can be embarrassing to say the least.
If anyone can waltz downstairs and grab a handful of toilet paper, why can’t women get similar access to products that are necessary for their daily hygiene?
The greatest hurdle for women and the university in freely providing these hygiene products is how overpriced these products are. Unfortunately, unless a growing movement can protest the cost of menstrual products, the expense is a constant. In the meantime, someone needs to take up the mantle of these costs because, it doesn’t matter who’s willing to pay for them or not, the demand is evident.
There is great potential benefit for the university to provide these products. By providing the products, UCA can stand out among its competitors. According to a 2018 Global Citizen article, the state of New York passed a law requiring its schools to provide free menstrual products for its students two years ago, but schools are only recently implementing those changes.
Additionally, according an article by The Harvard Crimson published Sept. 11, Harvard has recently started providing free menstrual products for its students.
If UCA were the next school to implement this, because so few schools are implementing the change including all Ivy League schools except Harvard, UCA would gain positive attention. This would encourage more students to attend UCA and boost its overall public image, offsetting the initial cost of the products.
Considering this issue is becoming more widespread, it’s also a matter of whether UCA would rather be one of the first or one of the last to implement these changes. Which side of history do we want to be on?
This is about more than convenience. The provision of menstrual products would benefit students, faculty and the university at large. The only remaining question is whether UCA is willing to take that crucial step.