BY MIMI HUCKINS ’21
When I walk into the new Grab ’n Go in Blanchard, there are plenty of items for purchase besides the full meal included with my meal plan. But what catches my eye is a tiny box of tampons for almost $5. I would think a historically women’s college would be progressive enough to provide pads and tampons, a necessity for many students on campus, for free. This is not the case. Mount Holyoke students with uteruses don’t need to endure the fear and anxiety that come with not having access to something so basic.
With the high price we pay to attend and live at Mount Holyoke, we receive many necessities: food, running water, toilet paper, etc. But when will the College realize that sanitary products are just as vital for many students? As a college, we have discussed this many times, but nowhere except for high-end hotel bathrooms seems to accommodate people with uteruses. It feels almost stale to be writing about a subject so obvious, but it’s also impossible for me to ignore. I shouldn’t have to receive panicked texts from friends when they bleed through their clothes in class and have no resources, and I shouldn’t feel anxious every time I forget to put a tampon in my bag.
This isn’t only about physical health, but mental health as well. While college is already anxiety-inducing for many, having to worry about your bodily functions interfering with your education adds unnecessary stress.
In addition, the College needs to realize that for many students this can be an even more stressful and traumatic experience. We are ignoring the struggle many trans students may endure: as to my understanding, having a period can be incredibly dysphoria-inducing, and being forced to openly bleed without easily accessible sanitary products can be excruciating. The lack of sanitary products also assumes that everyone at Mount Holyoke can afford to buy them regularly. At a minimum, low-income students who require these products should be supplied with them.
What the College needs to understand is that bleeding isn’t something anyone can predict right before it happens. I could be in class, the dining hall, or elsewhere and not have a chance to run back to my dorm or to the health center to retrieve what I need. It is truly unfortunate that the administration feels okay with depriving many of us of our needs.
Mount Holyoke has a responsibility to create a safe space for students to learn conducively and effectively. What are we doing for students with anxiety and other mental health issues? What are we doing for trans students? Are we ignoring low-income students? This topic strikes a nerve in me due to its simplicity. The act of supplying sanitary products in bathrooms could take only days to implement if it was treated like a real issue. At the very least, we could be given a fund for health-related products sold on campus, at least enough to buy a few $5 boxes of tampons. At the very, very least, we need to give students who may struggle to afford these items priority. No one should struggle to afford a bare necessity. All there is left to wonder is: why the wait?