EDITORIAL: New period of progress is coming to U.
Proposal for free menstrual hygiene products is just what we need
Rutgers is about to make campus life a little less stressful for its population of women, transgender people and non-binary people. Anyone who menstruates may soon be taken care of. At last week’s Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) full body meeting, the organization presented a preliminary proposal to start a program that provides free menstrual hygiene products on campus for those students who struggle with financial issues.
This initiative has been under consideration since September of last year when RUSA was planning on providing free tampons and pads in the bathrooms. The push for this came after Brown University released a statement saying that the availability of free feminine hygiene products was going to be a guarantee in “non-residential women’s, men’s and gender-inclusive bathrooms across campus.” A year later, the proposal has finally been written up and presented, and the University is going to finally start treating menstrual hygiene products as “necessities, not as luxury items.”
The proposal that was presented to the assembly featured an outline of RUSA’s research on the topic as well as their future plans and steps for action. These plans and steps include preparing for accessibility as well as unpreparedness. But RUSA is hoping for an easy transition, as nine of the 14 Big Ten schools have either already implemented or are in the process of implementing a free menstrual hygiene product program for their students.
Moving forward with this plan, RUSA hopes to have all of the Operations Offices of every campus fully stocked with products, that way, should a student ever need access to these products, they can go to these offices and receive some.
The great part of this initiative is that it is inclusive. All of the dispensers in the women’s bathrooms will be stocked, but at least one dispenser in every male bathroom and every gender-neutral bathroom will also be stocked. This way, the University is looking out for anyone and everyone in need of menstrual hygiene products.
Half of the Rutgers population has a menstrual cycle. This is not something that is a choice. Menstruation is a natural occurrence and should be introduced as such. RUSA is taking the commendable stance by not only fighting the stigma that surrounds menstruation but also by providing for the students who are in need of these hygiene products. The only issue that one should even have with this initiative is that it is coming in 2017 and not earlier.
It is understandable that some may feel that it is not the University’s responsibility to provide free feminine hygiene products, but these people must understand that a university can only truly be elite when its students are taken care of. Students make up a university and should be accounted for. This is especially true because many places and organizations on campus hand out free condoms. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, it is encouraged that this is done. But if the University is going to go out of its way to provide free condoms, then free feminine hygiene products should not even be up for debate.
RUSA is doing what it can to ensure that those students who have menstrual cycles are taken care of. Not everyone is always prepared when they get their periods, and the cost for pads or tampons should not be a concern when it happens. This initiative is moving Rutgers in the right direction, and in 2018, when it is in effect, the University will be a place that will be an inspiration to others. Little things like this can make Rutgers just a little bit better for all those who attend it.