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Monday, August 21, 2017

Opinion

Staff editorial: UH should provide free tampons, pads


As Houston Cougars, we bleed red — in more ways than one.

Not everyone bleeds once a month. A variety of factors such as sex, age, pregnancy, birth control and other factors like weight and diet can prevent menstrual cycles.

But the experience is so prevalent and so inconvenient that products used to contain its effects, like tampons and pads, should be available throughout campus restrooms and free.

Women and others who menstruate are ubiquitously expected to be prepared when the bleeding starts by carrying their own products. Smartphone apps like Clue can help people track their periods and estimate when their next cycles will start, and regular PMS symptoms allow some people to guess that timing down to the hour.

But still, human bodies are frustratingly unpredictable. Eighty-six percent of menstruating people have been caught unprepared by a period while in public, according to non-profit Free the Tampons.

The University of Houston is ill-equipped to handle menstruation. Students have just three options once realizing their cycle has started.

Option One: Hope the restroom they’ve run into has a dispenser, which also happens to be working, which also happens to be stocked. The student must also happen to be carrying a quarter with them into the bathroom.

The Student Government Association conducted a full review of campus bathrooms, and Deputy Chief of Staff Winni Zhang said they found more than 60 percent had neglected, broken or missing dispensers.

When Option One fails, products are available for sale at campus convenience stores at $3.49 for a pack of ten. Getting through the day’s public appearances typically requires only one or two products, so students are paying $3.49, plus tax, for one day when they choose Option Two.

Option three? Trek across UH to the Wellness Center (housed within the Campus Rec), where pads and tampons are free to use. Tucked away in the corner of campus, the Rec is furthest away from the classroom buildings students frequent most.

In December 2016, the Student Government Association created a fourth option. In a two-week trial run, its representatives stocked pads and tampons in women’s and family bathrooms at the Student Center in small baskets. According to Zhang, who led the effort, the trial was a huge hit. Some students even donated their own extra products to the countertop baskets, she said.

This program should be expanded throughout campus and integrated into UH Facilities’ operating budget. That our student representatives deemed it necessary to donate their time to restocking menstrual products every four hours for two weeks is amazing, but it should not be their responsibility.

Yes, there is a cost associated with addressing this problem. However, the University should consider tampons and pads just as necessary to student wellness as toilet paper, soap and paper towels.

The products should be restocked as bathrooms are cleaned each night by janitors, not by students in SGA.

Several other universities have implemented such a plan. The University of Minnesota and University of Nebraska at Lincoln, among others, offer free menstrual products. In July, the state of New York began offering free products in all public schools, homeless shelters and female prisons, prompting Brown University’s student government to embark on a similar mission.

At UH, we’re uniquely poised to set a precedent for the entire state. No other Texas university offers free pads or tampons. Texas State University stopped restocking dispensers in 2010 because they lacked funding. As a public institution, investing taxpayer monies on necessary hygiene products can set a standard for other state agencies and private businesses’ policies.

For too long, feminine bleeding has been a roadblock to education. Historically and even today, many girls are barred from attending school during their menstrual cycles. They’re deemed unclean and unfit to exist in a public sphere.

It would be fitting to counteract these practices by completely preventing a period from interrupting students’ educations at UH.

If funding is a problem, perhaps the University should consider adding “Daily Student Hygiene” to its limited list of priorities donors can choose from to target their philanthropy. Until then, it will be clear the University’s priorities don’t lie with student necessities.

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  • DC

    This is absolutely ridiculous! What about all the hundreds of years before when women “figured” it out? I never had to have an “app” to know when it was possibly coming, my daughters didn’t either and they are part of your generation…they and I carried and were prepared….I lived in the dorm there,had a tumor on my ovary and still managed to get to class, be prepared for my period and then have surgery all the while never expecting the university or other people to take care of my “necessities”. I work in a middle school and those young girls have it figured out why can’t you college girls? Please grow up and stop whining and acting like victims…

    • pinkpokkadot

      Respectfully, you having a tumor on your ovary and making it to class has nothing to do with this piece.

  • LibertarianTexan

    No, men should not be forced to pay for women’s sanitary needs. No one should be forced to pay for other people.

    • James Eldon Thornock

      I love you! Join YAL! We’re for liberty!

    • pinkpokkadot

      Your comment is ridiculous. It’s equivalent to “we shouldn’t have to pay for the rec because not everyone uses it.”

      • LibertarianTexan

        You shouldn’t have to pay for things you don’t use. Including the rec center if you want to not exercise.

        • equalityforall

          Maybe we should all stop paying taxes as well? That way tuition could be >50,000 for everyone. Then, only the students that REALLY need education would come to school.

          • LibertarianTexan

            We should stop paying taxes. School would not be anywhere near what it costs now if not for government interference and subsidy.
            That idea would jive the best with your username.

          • equalityforall

            LMAO are you insane? The reason tuition fees are as low as they are now is because we are a publicly funded institution. Look at how expensive private schools are.

          • LibertarianTexan

            No, I am not insane. I am better informed than you. If you honestly believe that subsidy does not raise cost then you are economically illiterate. Just because a cost is stolen from another person to make your bill lower does not mean that it is a low cost. There is no such thing as a free lunch. anything that the government gives you must first be taken from another.

            Do you believe that you are entitled to have your college subsidized by people who never went to college? How is that fair?

  • lovemycountry1964

    This is beyond hilarious and just shows how far this country has come to thinking someone always owes you something for free. How about some personal accountability. Grow up people.

  • Nope

    this is probably the dumbest editorial I have ever read. Favorite line- “For too long, feminine bleeding has been a roadblock to education. Historically and even today, many girls are barred from attending school during their menstrual cycles. They’re deemed unclean and unfit to exist in a public sphere” take it from an adult woman, the only thing that is a roadblock to your education is this editorial, and your role on the editorial board. Please don’t use the fact that you stained your pants a little bit during class to claim to be a viticim of a much bigger issue. Everyday anything can happen. You can die, get rich, or get your period. Be prepared or think fast when the moment comes but don’t expect anyone to help you unless they can help themselves. Please do better.
    -Signed a female liberal with real issues.

  • Opa

    This HAS to be a SATIRE piece because otherwise, the writer has no business being in an institution of higher education.

  • coachv79

    Everyone eats. Perhaps UH can provide free food?

    As Forrest Gump once said “stupid as stupid does”.

  • Muhammed Bin Zayed Jones

    Free this … Free that. And who pays for it … you.

    Was anyone on the CEB ever spanked as a kid?

    Because they all write like they were coddled by Mommy and Daddy, living in a Utopian household, where they were protected and shielded, not being properly prepared for the Real World.

    For only coddled children could seriously write, “The University of Houston is ill-equipped to handle menstruation.”

    I would have loved to be a Fly on the Wall during this discussion on the output of the CEB’s bloody tripe today. They all literally think that not one woman on campus is capable of handling their monthly needs without some form of government intrusion.

    Did any of the nitwitted dopes that associate themselves with the CEB even think about the consequences of the giggles and laughter that this so-called Staff Editorial piece might generate? I guarantee you many more students are smiling on campus today after perusing it.

    If it didn’t work at Texas State, a place arguably even more Socialist than UH. Have you seen the tripe they print? With no common sense push-back.

    Yes, if it didn’t work at Texas State, then how can it possibly work here?

    Students should not be FORCED to pay a “Women’s Bleeding Fee” on their Fee Bills.

    However, there is a SOLUTION to this and it doesn’t require further SGA intrusion into our pocketbooks.

    Perhaps the SGA and WELLNESS CENTER should hold MONTHLY BAKE SALES to maintain the tampon dispensers.

    I might would buy a CUPCAKE shaped in the form of a woman’s bleeding genitalia. Well, if women wearing vaginal garb at their estrogen march was the norm, it’s good enough for a UH cupcake.

    So get BAKING SGA and Wellness Center … lots of tongues await your bloody confections.

    • ReasonReignsSumpreme

      I don’t understand whats hard about this…. You get what you bargain for. If enough students want the school to provide free tampons in bathrooms, then it will happen. It has nothing to do with liberal vs conservative.

      • Mohammed bin Zayed Jones

        The products provided, RRS, are going to be of the least quality and least expensive, which is the goal of any government entity in searching for products for the masses of their constiuency.

        Women use about 240 tampons a year, or about 20 per month. Tampax has a 96-count box for like $14. Is $35 or so, to much for a woman to provide for themselves?

        Etsy has 5 Reusable Crocheted Tampons for $6 w/ $3 shipping.

        So it is a woman’s choice.

        The best choice for UH would be the Etsy. Just get some medical person to sanitize them after use.

        What was really missing from the piece was a female students personally responsibility to account for her own needs. Does UH have to do everything for them?

  • CoogsHouse713

    Come on…this is satire, right…right?

    The DC has always been leftist and unintentionally comical, but this takes it to a whole new level.

    Nothing is “free.” If it was “free,” people will just take all of these expensive products from the bathrooms, and students will pay for the costs with increased tuition and fees. How is this so hard to understand?

    There is a reason that most people have an extremely low opinion of “journalism” and that most mainstream media is in a death spiral…and ludicrous nonsense like this drivel is a big reason.

    The DC loves to preach about diversity. Howe about some diversity in common sense, logic, and political opinions…instead of the same, tired propaganda fueled by ignorance and emotion?

  • Karen Hitchcock

    Shows how old I am – used to circle the first day of period on a calendar and then count 4 weeks from then!! Always had small makeup purse of necessities, including change of knickers, in handbag! It is hard to imagine that with the size of pads and tampons these days, you couldn’t have a couple of them tucked away in your bag – most students take backpacks with them everywhere!

  • WhiteBrownYellow

    Is it really free when you’re paying $5000 dollars a semester? Are these things really handouts, or just a service that should be provided?

  • ReasonReignsSumpreme

    You people are all ridiculous….. we pay over$10,000 a year to go here. The least they could do is have tampons in the restroom. Its not freeloading, you’re paying for it with your tuition.

    • Mansgame

      Where do you stop? “I pay $10,000 so I should get free food!”; “I pay $10,000 so I should get free parking!”; “I pay $10,000 so I should get a free car ride!”

      • ReasonReignsSupreme

        Yes they have a shuttle service, yes parking should be free if you go here to learn. Food is separate from the University Education.

        • LibertarianTexan

          Tampons are separate from the University Education.

          • ReasonReignsSumpreme

            So is a pool, a football team, restrooms, showers, and a gym? Should we get rid of those too

          • LibertarianTexan

            Get rid of? No. Fund a la carte? Yes. Just like tampons. Pay for them if you need them.

    • DC

      No, you pay for an education with your tuition…not personal necessities! Should UH pay for deodorant, toothpaste, soap? Stop feeling ENTITLED!!

      • ReasonReignsSupreme

        You are literally all idiots….. if you go here then the univeristy provides certain services. For example, the bathrooms have toilets, toilet paper, towels, and sinks. Many high schools provide these services to their students, is it so wrong to ask for them here? You as a student are trying to get the most “bang for your buck”. How is asking for more services with your money freeloading? It’s freeloading when a paying indivdual tries to get the most out of their services, but when a million dollar university increases the cost, it’s smart business?

      • ReasonReignsSupreme

        By your logic they should remove everything that has nothing to do with education. So…..Why have bathrooms with soap? Why have bathrooms at all? Why have a gym? Why have showers in the gym? Why have a student center? Why have a pool? Why have a soccer field? Why have a football team? You are being ridiculous. It’s not entitled if you pay for it. Tampoons are offered in high school the least they should do is have them at a university.

    • mvhrt

      I paid over $10,000 for my car. The least that they can do is replace my toothpaste for free.

      Does that comment make any sense? How does yours?

      • ReasonReignsSupreme

        You pay over $10,000 you should expect it to have air-conditioning and a stereo. None of those things have anything to do with driving but you expect those things because you as the customer want them. You get what you bargain for. Are you freeloading an air conditioner? Are you freeloading a stereo? Be reasonable…. high schools offer tampoons, so should you.

  • Apollo

    Free….

    Before you start tossing around the word free please come up with a business model for this. Nothing in life is free and that is the truth of the matter. So tell me what this plan is to pay for all this “free”. Is it coming from student fees, the university, the student government allotted funds to run the organization for a year….donations. More than this women carry big purses, backpacks and other bags. You can stuff a textbook, laptop and your lunch in the backpack and everything but the kitchen sink into a purse but you can’t plan ahead for something you have had going on with your body for 5, 8, 10 + years at this point and will be having for the next 20-30 years.

    More over why are we giving a crutch, the real world won’t give free tampons. No business has that as a company perk, get into the habit now so you don’t embarrass yourself the board room or business meeting when you start your career.

    You are an adult now, plan ahead like one.

  • dslrforever

    This is why I stopped donating to the alumni association. UH is going hog wild with spending. Remember your roots.

  • CJ

    Let me get this right. There is already a place where they are free, you just won’t walk 5 minutes to go there so they should be free everywhere? This is insane.

    “deemed unclean and unfit to exist in a public sphere”… who said that…ever?

  • RBraly

    Dumb. I’m embarrassed of UH.

  • James Eldon Thornock

    Comments on this are gold Y’all. I freaking love you guys. Join YAL (young Americans for liberty)if you’re for the free market, and for lower tuition. https://www.facebook.com/groups/272445576474378/

  • Riverboat

    “The student must also happen to be carrying a quarter with them into the bathroom.”

    I know it’s de rigueur to be gender-neutral in a story, so allow me help the copy editor with a suggestion for the “them” and “the student” disagreement. Just make the antecedent plural. Still, would it kill you to use “her” instead of “them”? I mean, even the most wild-eyed male-to-female tranny can’t really be in need of a tampon, right?

    And for those beleaguered actual women demanding free tampons, let me make another suggestion I learned as a Boy Scout: Be prepared.

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