Bring Free Menstrual Hygiene Products to NYU
By Josy Jablons, ‘17 and Meghan Racklin, ‘16, co-founders of Students for Sexual Respect at NYU, with support of Students for Sexual Respect at NYU
New York University cares about our sexual health — sort of. While students can obtain condoms with relative ease, we struggle to access menstrual hygiene products (MHPs). The mission of NYU’s Student Health Center is to “enhance the health and wellbeing of NYU students in support of their learning and success,” yet many students still struggle to access basic necessities.
On average, we each spend about $10 a month on MHPs. At an expensive university where many students face large amounts of debt, our budgets can’t always accommodate those $10 a month. We shouldn’t have to choose between MHPs and other necessities like pricey textbooks, groceries or MetroCards. Our bodies shouldn’t have to be more expensive than other bodies.
Finances are not the only obstacle here. It’s often difficult to predict exactly when your period will start, how long it will last or how many MHPs you’ll need over the course of a day. Between the two of us, we can recall numerous times when we’ve had to stuff wads of toilet paper in our pants, return to class and sit for an hour distracted and uncomfortable. This, in itself, is an impediment to our education. Mayor Bill de Blasio recently signed legislation that guarantees free access to MHPs in NYC public schools, affirming that “students should be able to concentrate on their studies.”
It is common to run into a student in the bathroom who is desperately seeking a tampon or pad. What’s more, menstruating students who use men’s restrooms may not find anyone in the bathroom they are comfortable asking. To ensure that all students feel safe using the bathroom consistent with their gender identity" there must be access to free MHPs in all University bathrooms.
By making MHPs inaccessible to those who need them, NYU implicitly accepts that barriers to education based on anatomy are permissible. This is unfair and discriminatory.
We implore NYU to fund a pilot program which will provide free MHPs in all restrooms—female, male, and gender-neutral—throughout centrally-located buildings, such as Kimmel Center for University Life, Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, and 6 MetroTech Center. Additionally, free supplies should be located in convenient locations such as the Health Promotion Office and Student Resource Center.
Add your signature to tell the NYU administration that free MHPs are important to the health and success of NYU students.
Read the full opinion piece here, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
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