Davidson Bathrooms Have Toilet Paper, Why Not Tampons Too?

Nicholas Trevino – To confirm our community’s commitment to every student’s dignity, Davidson should provide tampons and pads in student bathroom. Since accepting women in 1972, later than many of our peer institutions, our campus has slowly accommodated to the student body’s changing needs. Toilet paper, soap, and tampons are all basic necessities that keep our community healthy, but Davidson fails to provide tampons, which ignores over half of the campus’s sanitation needs. Silent sexist assumptions governing women’s bodies have enforced an unfair status quo that makes individuals pay for tampons, despite no person ever choosing to have a period. We need to challenge these stale assumptions if we want to continue to become a more inclusive, respectful, empathetic, and fair community.

Davidson has recruited talented financially disadvantaged students that spend a relatively higher percentage of their income buying expensive menstrual necessities. While procrastinating on an essay at CVS, I walked through the “menstrual hygiene” aisle, and realized that I wasn’t sure if I could afford to have a period. While estimates vary, the most commonly cited statistic suggests that people with periods spend on average $70 per year on tampons alone[1]. Over a lifetime this adds up to roughly $2660. Menstruation’s financial burden comprises only a portion of the higher economic costs of being a woman or having a vagina. Higher prices for “female versions” of the same product[2], higher insurance costs, necessary medical procedures, and other expenses create higher financial costs for women.[3]

Tampons and pads within bathrooms would help make our campus a fairer place for students by reducing the menstruation stigma that polices people with period’s actions. Men’s often embarrassingly juvenile, irrational, and hysterical reactions to periods, a natural healthy bodily function, stifle public health conversations and shame people into silence and euphemisms. This both creates consistent gaps for people with period’s health needs and makes our campus a less open and honest community. Menstrual supplies in bathrooms would help change our community’s culture and conversations and might reduce humiliating periods stigma.

Let’s do a thought experiment to show the current system’s unfairness. Suppose regardless of a person’s biological sex, they had an equal chance of menstruating. Right before starting college, a lottery would randomly make half of the class menstruate, and half wouldn’t. As that hypothetical prospective student, you’d want fair rules that shared menstruation’s financial burden with the entire campus, rather than making half the campus pay the entire share. You would want Davidson to provide tampons, so that regardless of whether the lottery made you menstruate, you’d be protected. You’d want some protection against you or your classmate unexpectedly getting their period on their way to class, and not having a tampon to address it.

Davidson should start a pilot program to determine student interest, costs, and other implementation issues. Currently, the paucity of existing research on college provided tampons makes it difficult to determine what percentage of the Davidson community would prefer school provided tampons over their own supply. Davidson should place menstrual products within set bathrooms in residential halls, academic buildings, or in the Union, and then record the demand. Then complement this with campus surveys identifying the population that preferred school provided tampons, and why.

Davidson has an opportunity to actually lead its peer institutions for a change, and help guarantee that everyone, regardless of income or gender, has the right to dignity, fairness, and equality.

Nicholas Trevino,‘17, is a Political Science major from Jacksonville, Florida. Contact him at nitrevino@davidson.edu.

[1]http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-how-muchthe- tampon-tax-costs-women-2016-03-24 [2]https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/partners/gender-pricing- study.page [3]https://www.thenation.com/article/high-cost-beingwoman/