Dear Trinity: make menstrual products more accessible

This year, Trinity’s Student Government Association (SGA) is implementing free menstrual product dispensers in certain bathrooms. According to sophomore senator Ella Charbonnet, SGA has ordered four dispensers and plans to place three in Mabee Dining Hall, Coates Student Center and Coates Library.

This is a great upgrade from the baskets of tampons and pads placed in certain bathrooms last year. The dispensers not only look nicer and more organized, but they are less likely to be defaced. Also compared to last year, Charbonnet is going to create a team of volunteers to regularly stock up on the dispensers. This is a great resource for the campus because not everyone can comfortably afford menstrual products.

SGA is just one of the organizations that are an advocate for the student body. By taking this initiative to stock up bathrooms to make menstrual products more accessible, they are showing that they are listening to our needs and trying to make changes around campus.

There is a big stigma around periods that says they are disgusting and should not be talked about. A study done by Female Forward Together showed that around 62% of women felt uncomfortable when talking about periods and around 59% of men agreed. In middle school and high school, I hid my menstrual products up my sleeve and did not want anyone to hear me taking the packaging off. It was embarrassing. By placing menstruation products in bathrooms, SGA is not only listening to the student body but is breaking the stigma around periods.

Although this is a great step towards creating more equitable access for people at school, there is still work to be done. There are many limitations to the plan that is being put into place by SGA. The first limitation is the fact that only three dispensers will be placed around campus. The dispensers are also only being placed in women’s bathrooms. This selectivity excludes many people who need menstrual products from being able to comfortably access them.

My first thought when hearing about the dispensers was to put them in every single bathroom whether it’s the men’s bathroom, gender-neutral bathrooms or women’s bathrooms. There are signs on campus that locate the gender-neutral bathrooms at the Center for the Sciences and Innovation, Coates Library, Dicke Hall, Halsell Center, Northrup Hall and Parker Chapel. By adding dispensers in these bathrooms, people would not be limited to certain bathrooms that are located at different corners of campus. It would also be more inclusive for the university to take non-binary people or anyone who uses gender-neutral bathrooms into consideration because it would show they are willing to serve everyone’s needs.

Only having three dispensers in women’s bathrooms disregards people who have periods but don’t identify as female. This isolates many people on campus and doesn’t make period products as accessible as they should be. Although these dispensers are already a step up from last year, there is still more we can do. It would take more money, resources and time to install more dispensers, but the well-being of students should not be overlooked because of this.