I wrote this article for a special edition of The Collegian, the campus paper at the University of Tulsa. This edition of the paper is called Improve TU, and includes submissions from students like myself, who do not regularly write for The Collegian.
That’s right, I said tampons, in public. Tampons, pads, sanitary products, feminine products, girly things; whatever you want to call them, women need these products. But I have a hard time finding them in the public restrooms on this campus. (In case you’re male and unfamiliar with a women’s restroom, this is how it works: there is usually a box on the wall of public restrooms from which you can get a tampon or pad for some small price less than a dollar.)
I visited some restrooms around campus to see what kind of options we women have, and it’s pretty disappointing. The first floor women’s restrooms of Oliphant Hall, the Student Union, Kendall Hall and Tyrell Hall do not have tampon dispensers. In Oliphant, there’s actually a piece of metal screwed into the wall that is the size of a tampon dispenser — why did they take the tampons away? That big, fancy restroom next to the cafeteria? No tampons in there either. Friends tell me that there are no dispensers in Keplinger Hall and that a dispenser in Chapman Hall is long empty. You can however, get free tampons at the gym if you ask at the front desk, so kudos to the Collins Fitness Center.
Yes, the women on this campus are, well, women. Grown women who probably have enough experience with their menstrual cycles to know if they need a pad or not. But women aren’t perfect. (Yes, it’s hard to believe, I know.) Sometimes we don’t know when we will start, sometimes we just forget to pack a tampon, and sometimes we have to pee in the middle of class. Do you know how awkward it is to pull a pad out of your bag in the middle of class? It’s not like you can take your whole big bookbag with you, either — what if the professor thinks you’re just leaving? I am in no way encouraging women to be ashamed of their periods, but let’s be real, most of us don’t want the whole world to know it’s that time of the month again.
So why don’t we have dispensers for pads and tampons? I honestly can’t think of a good reason. At a minimum, there should be one dispenser per building so that women have access to products no matter where they go on campus. Let’s improve TU by making women’s lives just a little bit easier.