Editorial Board

SA’s free menstrual product initiative starts small, proves smart

/ The Daily Orange

Following a string of colleges that have done the same, Syracuse University will finally provide free menstrual products in a handful of campus bathrooms this week in a move by the Student Association that highlights accessibility and inclusivity.

Every Friday, volunteers will stock bathrooms in Schine Student Center, Bird Library, Life Sciences Complex, Huntington Beard Crouse and Hall of Languages: 10 tampons and 10 pads in women’s and gender-neutral bathrooms, and five tampons and pads in men’s bathrooms.

While 10 to 20 menstrual products per bathroom is a small start, it’s a smart one for SA considering the initiative is still in its trial stage.

Still, the increased availability of menstrual resources is crucial on a college campus: For those that menstruate, cycles are inevitable and tampons and pads aren’t cheap. So while the current $1,000 budget won’t accommodate every student on their cycle who uses the specified bathrooms, SA is giving students a stock of emergency materials in case they forgot to pack an extra pad that day.

In this way, SA sets the tone for what the program should be: An opportunity for students who are in an emergency situation and need these products, not a resource for students to substitute purchasing their own personal items each month.

Operating on the five-building system for now will help SA gauge the popularity of each menstrual product location as well as the effectiveness of the program itself. But looking at the organization’s long-term goals, SA should consider expanding the number of academic buildings where menstrual products are available or even moving forward with stocking the bathrooms in residence halls.

While SA student life co-chair Keelan Erhard took cues from John Carroll University with the initiative, Brown University and SU peer institution Cornell University also greenlighted free tampon distributions in September.

Notably, Brown placed tampons in men’s, women’s and gender-neutral bathrooms —about 70 bathrooms across 30 buildings, according to The Washington Post. Other schools, including the University of Minnesota, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, have provided free menstrual products on their campuses.

Especially given the incorporation of men’s and gender-neutral bathrooms in the mix, it’s forward-looking that SU is catching up with other institutions of higher education and that SA is facilitating this progress.

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