Expand Campus Access to Feminine Hygiene Products

Feminine hygiene products are a basic necessity for many students and the University must take on the responsibility of distributing them across campus.

This past February, the Undergraduate Council approved a motion to allocate $1,000 for a month-long pilot program that would make tampons and related products more readily available in freshman dorms. By doing so, the UC has pioneered legislation that finally acknowledges a need of many students on campus that all too often goes ignored. While we commend the UC for their impetus, the legislation is financially, geographically, and temporally narrow in scope solely due to their limited authority, and we urge administrators with greater means to tackle this challenge themselves. As basic hygiene products are the right of every College student, it is time that the University itself assume the responsibility of distributing these necessities throughout the entire campus.

Easy access to pads and tampons has the potential to improve the quality of life for a large portion of the school’s population. Harvard already distributes other necessities such as toilet paper free of charge; including feminine hygiene products would simply be an extension of the services that are already uncontroversially provided. Moreover, University-provided feminine hygiene products would significantly decrease the financial burden that they pose for many students. Individuals across the country currently pay up to $70 to $100 a year on tampons and pads. This onus is only exacerbated by the premiums that students must potentially pay when purchasing small quantities from convenience stores such as CVS.

Students would reap the benefits of wider availability—it would help to curtail the potential stressors that students face during sudden instances of urgent necessity. If the time and anguish associated with obtaining these products is decreased, students will have more freedom to focus on improving their educational experience at the University.

Students at Harvard and college campuses across the country have already demonstrated the importance of treating feminine hygiene products as a necessity rather than a luxury. Last September, Brown University made headlines when its Undergraduate Council of Students decided to provide free tampons and sanitary napkins free of charge in women’s, gender inclusive, and men’s bathrooms in the college’s nonresidential buildings. On Harvard’s own campus, the Hygiene Campaign Club tackles issues of feminine care at the College and in the City of Cambridge. Earlier this month, the club collected signatures for a petition to provide free menstrual hygiene products in the upperclassmen houses. Moreover, the UC proposal for feminine hygiene products in first-year dorms passed with a unanimous vote.

As students have already demonstrated their support for this endeavor, Harvard must take the next step in responding to these growing requests. The financial burden to cover the costs of this program must come under the University’s budget rather than that of the UC’s. Doing so would grant the financial stability required for the imperative long-term implementation and larger scale of this program. Moving forward, the University administration should consult students on how they would like this initiative to be implemented. Students can provide further information on the locations that would best increase accessibility as well as the specific products that they prefer.

The taboo nature of menstruation does not erase its pertinence to student health in our community; the need for feminine hygiene products is not going away anytime soon. If the University believes in creating an equitable institution, it must begin to treat feminine hygiene products as a right rather than a privilege.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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