Opinion: Menstrual Products Should Be Available in Bathrooms

I was in the bathroom on the fifth floor of the West building when I realized I got my period. I reached hopefully into my backpack only to find that I’d given my last pad away to a friend who’d needed one. Until I found a menstrual product, my life — my homework, my classes, everything I needed to do — was on pause.

I knew about the Purple Peeriod Project — the USG-sponsored project, paid for through the Student Activity Fee, to make pads and tampons available at various offices, mostly in Thomas Hunter — but didn’t have the list memorized and couldn’t think of any Purple Peeriod Project locations in the West building. I went to the Student Center on the fourth floor, hoping that it might be one of the locations and asked, “Is this one of the Purple Peeriod Project locations?” It wasn’t.

So began my journey to find a pad at Hunter College. Determined not to schlep all the way to Thomas Hunter, I went to the Sportsplex in the basement of the West building, where the Welcome Desk is listed online as one of the Purple Peeriod Project locations. I couldn’t find any Welcome Desk in B2, so I went and asked the person sitting at the front desk in the Fitness Center — thank God she was a woman — “is this a Purple Peeriod Project location?” She said no. It turns out, the Welcome Desk has not existed for more than two years. 

The women’s bathroom on the 5th floor of the West building. Photo by Lauren Hakimi

Eventually I did get my pad, but it wasn’t from the Purple Peeriod Project — it was from a teammate I was lucky to find sitting outside the locker room. If I had not found my teammate sitting there, or if she hadn’t had any pads on her, what would have become of me? How long would my scavenger hunt have taken? How many people sitting at front desks would I have had to ask for a pad? Would I have had to just go home?

Why is it that when I walk into Brookdale, I am greeted by bins and bins of free condoms as far as the eye can see, but if I have the audacity to get my period, I have to take a tour of Hunter College just to get a menstrual product? 

The most logical place for pads and tampons to be available is not in the Hillel on the fourth floor of Thomas Hunter, nor is it Advising Services on the eleventh floor of the East Building. The logical place for menstrual products to be located is in the bathrooms of Hunter College, where students have to go anyway in order to put them on. All a person should have to do to obtain a pad or tampon is to place their hand in a basket. Period.

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