Tampon dispensers empty, have been for years

Tamonda Griffiths – News Writer

Angela Casner, a junior and psychology major said she has noticed a lack of feminine hygiene products in the women’s bathroom since the beginning of the semester.

“I come prepared, but I know…sometimes I may forget something or like other people, you know, may not… expect it, so to not have [feminine hygiene products] on you it’s… really stressful,” said Casner.

Virlinda Billups, psychology department secretary, said in fall 2017 she collaborated with psychology professors Dawn Biondi and Kelly Stiver to provide female students with the pads and tampons they needed.

“We are women and we do need things,” said Billups. “And sometimes actually students aren’t able to, you know – they could be in a fix.”

According to a 2013 survey conducted on the Free the Tampons website, 86 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 54 years old reported getting their period unexpectedly, and 76 percent said they must “MacGyver” or improvise feminine hygiene products.

Billups said there was a time when there were hygiene dispensers in the bathrooms but that was before the remodeling of Engleman Hall in the early 2000s. She said she had never brought this concern to the head of facilities.

“It was just a good gesture on [professors Biondi and Stiver’s] part,” said Billups.

Billups said originally, they had put the entire box of either pads or tampons in the bathroom but found it would disappear rather quickly.

Instead, a flyer is posted in the women’s bathrooms of the psychology department informing students to go to the department office if they find themselves unprepared.

“And this is totally private,” said Billups.

Stiver said she noticed Billups, at one point in time, had been supplying the women’s bathrooms with health and beauty aid products, such as deodorants and air fresheners, and had been in conversations with colleagues from other universities about the lack of “toiletries dispensers.”

“We don’t actually have any resources for this,” said Stiver, “and there are people that… might not be able to afford hygienic items.”

In 2016, Connecticut joined the ranks of 13 out of 50 states that do not have taxation on feminine hygiene products, according to a BBC article.

It is estimated that the abolishment of the sales tax on those products will save consumers about $10 million of the $3.1 billion Americans spend annually on pads, tampons and other feminine hygiene needs.

Stiver said there had been times when students have had “emergency situations” that forced them to go door-to-door to ask for tampons.

Stiver said she credits Billups for recognizing the overall need for feminine products, and she and Biondi simply expanded to period- specific products as well.

“I think it is a legitimate need,” said Stiver.

Emily Rosenthal, the coordinator of the wellness center, said although her office focuses more on the facilitation of public health education and preventative care measures, the wellness center does provide free feminine hygiene products and as well as the health services office in Granoff Hall.

Both Billups and Stiver said they were unaware of this fact, but it was good to know.

Stiver said they were more so focused on the “acute” need for supplies in the psychology wing.

“[We are] doing it out of the goodness of our hearts,” said Billups.


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