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Where are the tampons?

| Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Tampons. Pads. Menstruation. Okay, now that I’ve gotten rid of those who would prefer not to hear this, (I’m looking at you, male population), here we go. My friends and I are hanging out in Duncan Student Center after our first full week of classes at Saint Mary’s. My friend walks out of the bathroom with a funny look on her face. We ask her why, and she whispers, “They have free tampons here.” My friend Meg sarcastically remarks, “Are they blue and gold?”, and we laugh the situation off. We let this go for the evening, and then, upon returning to our dorm, we realized that we, as an all-girls school, don’t even have 25-cent tampon dispensers in our residence bathrooms, let alone free products. The closest thing on the Saint Mary’s campus is a wicker basket of tampons in the Health and Counseling Center, which still feels like a public statement to have to grab, or the Mother Pauline Pantry, where we can get tampons, but for the price of an explanation.

We became upset and confused at the fact that we don’t have free tampons available to us. If we’re an all-girls school, where we can assume that most everybody menstruates, then why doesn’t our administration provide such a simple necessity? It’s also worth mentioning that Notre Dame accepted women much less recently, while Saint Mary’s remains an all-women’s college to this day. How has the school across the road been able to make such a necessary step, but we haven’t? 

Every person who menstruates, too, knows the feeling of walking into a bathroom, sitting down and realizing, “Oh, shoot.” What makes the situation worse for a Belle, though, is that most are expected to use communal bathrooms. This means that there is no option of just sticking a box in the bathroom, like one could at home. 

Instead, the expectation is that a girl must run back to her dorm to grab one. Imagine for a second how uncomfortable and humiliating that is, when a girl was just planning to use the bathroom, especially if she’s already running behind on getting to class.  Sure, you can tell me we should “be more prepared” all you want, but what if somebody expected you to bring your own toilet paper? Do you think that you would remember a roll every single time? 

What if that girl then must go back to her room and realize that she’s out of tampons, and beg her roommate for one? What if the roommate is also out, and she doesn’t want to go knocking on doors, informing others that she’s on her period right now? (Having grown up as the middle child of all girls, this happens more than you might think.)

We are paying to live here. So, Saint Mary’s, do not take this the wrong way. I’m not angry with you, I’m just confused and looking for an answer. I am not asking for a free box a month or a scented product. I don’t care if it’s off-brand. I’m not trying to ask for anything fancy and understand that, as is the same with toilet paper, you will provide it and if I want something better, then I will have to go about providing it myself.  I am just asking, for a school that I am paying a pretty penny to attend, to have a few tampons in my dorm bathroom, so that on the day I (inevitably) forget, I can just grab one — available to me right in the restroom — and be on my way.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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