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Opinion: Campus Lacks Hygiene Products for Women

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It has become evident that, of all the resources the University at Albany has to offer, feminine hygiene products aren’t included.

While this may not be obvious to everyone, there is a severe lack of pads and tampons available to women in the UAlbany community. Typically, public restrooms have dispensers with feminine products available for free or a small fee. There has been a push recently to make them free universally. However, at UAlbany, they are not available at all.

It does not matter which on-campus bathroom you go to. From the lecture center to the Campus Center to dorm buildings, the bathrooms do not have any kind of pads or tampons available. This can make a woman’s life difficult and uncomfortable in the case of an emergency.

“If they can afford condoms, why can’t they afford pads? It’s actually a necessity,” says Amy Wang, a freshman studying journalism.

Even male students agree that the campus is lacking.

“If guys can get condoms, why can’t girls get tampons?” asked Fred Wieneke, a freshman studying cybersecurity.

The next place to check, if they aren’t in the bathrooms, is to find a place to buy supplies on campus. After all, the vending machines have condoms among the snacks. It would make sense to have feminine products in the vending machines too, but there aren’t.

The Campus Center bookstore is a convenient place to get supplies in a rush. It carries essentially everything a student may need in a pinch, including school supplies, snacks, drinks, tissues, toilet paper, electronics, and everything in between. The only things that seem impossible to find on the shelves are pads and tampons. They are not even available for purchase on campus. If a student needs to replenish her supply, she needs to go off campus. In an emergency or in inclement weather, a trip to Walmart for a box of tampons is more than an inconvenience. Why is this?

States can only tax citizens on items that are considered “nonessential.” Things like groceries, medical supplies and clothing are often exempt from sales tax. But in the vast majority of states, feminine hygiene products are not considered essential, even though the Food and Drug Administration has labeled them as “medical devices.” The reason the tax still exists is that these products are not used to treat an illness or injury per say.

Currently, six states, including Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and recently New York, do not tax menstrual products like tampons and pads. Most states tax them as a luxury item. This makes them costly. It can cost women an average of $800 over a lifetime just in taxes on these products.

Essentially, if a woman finds herself in a sticky situation, it seems that her only option is to use toilet paper and hope it will hold out until she can go somewhere else to get proper protection. It is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and embarrassing at times. If a woman does not live on the campus, she cannot get a pad or tampon until she leaves for the day, which could be hours away. Even those who do live on campus may run out of supplies may not have the time to leave and buy more.

Some students, while annoyed, try to joke about the situation.

“If they’re not going to give us pads and tampons, they could at least give use double-ply toilet paper,” says freshman journalism major Olivia Kimball.

Essentially, there is an obvious issue with feminine products on campus. Women’s periods exist, and they need the proper supplies to deal with it each month. If restaurants, high schools, airports, and essentially every other public institution can provide feminine hygiene products, why can’t a college campus?

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