EDITORIAL: U. initiative will help half of Rutgers
Free menstrual hygiene products are a necessity
Despite being a natural and necessary part of life, menstruation has been considered by many to be somewhat taboo and dirty. Possibly for that reason, among others, until recently public accommodations with regard to it have been seemingly non-existent in the United States. The Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) did well in joining the several other U.S. colleges and universities that have been successfully pushing for readily accessible and affordable menstrual hygiene products on campus.
The newly initiated pilot program here at Rutgers provides free menstrual hygiene products via dispensers installed in certain University student center bathrooms. Since the program is still in its beginning stages and assessment of its effectiveness is still needed, the initiative has only been implemented on Busch, Cook and Livingston campuses. That being said, there are hopeful plans to bring the program to the College Avenue campus and Douglass as well.
It seems obvious that menstrual hygiene products are not merely a luxury, but a necessity. Not only that, but they are a necessity that applies to half of the Rutgers student body. One big reason that this initiative is helpful is that it can work to relieve some of the financial burden that comes with buying these products, especially for those students who may struggle just to pay for things like food. In fact, RUSA compared the prices of tampons and sanitary napkins in on-campus convenience stores versus off-campus ones, and found that these items cost about three times more on campus. By buying these products in bulk rather than at retail price, they found that the University could actually save money.
Of course most women who go to Rutgers will continue to purchase their own menstrual hygiene products and will not simply rely on the ones the University supplies, but that does not mean this program will not come in handy to those same people. a study by the Free The Tampon Foundation, 86 percent of women surveyed said they had unexpectedly started their period in public without the necessary supplies. Additionally, 79 percent said they had been forced to create a makeshift or improvised menstrual hygiene product as a result of unpreparedness. This initiative could very well help alleviate that worry for many women at Rutgers.
This initiative is no doubt a good start, but more can likely be done. As with all other projects that require funding, there exists at least a certain degree of budget constraints here, but putting some menstrual hygiene products in all female restrooms does not seem all that far-fetched. Considering Rutgers’ ability to market itself, it seems reasonable to look into a business deal of sorts involving advertising in exchange for these products — the aim of course being to mitigate the cost and provide them at a larger scale.
This is a program that will work to benefit, at least in some way, half of the Rutgers population. Maybe in the future we will see free menstrual hygiene products available in all Rutgers bathrooms so as to accommodate for the transgender community, so as to allow them to utilize more freely the bathroom that matches their identity. But until then, this initiative will likely progress our University for the better. We are proud of Rutgers for taking this initiative.
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