Despite being a necessity for people who menstruate, pads and tampons can be expensive, especially in states where the products are not exempt from sales tax. (And that's most of them.) Over a lifetime, the Huffington Post estimates that an individual can spend as much as $18,000 on period-related products.
The good news is that, in some places, things are changing. Earlier this year a program was announced to provide free menstrual hygiene products to several New York City public schools. Now students at Brown University are launching their own initiative. Free tampons and pads will now be available in 30 to 40 non-residential restrooms across the Rhode Island campus.
The program was started by the Undergraduate Council of Students, with funding from the Undergraduate Finance Board. The UCS explained in a press release, "These products are not luxuries, they are necessities, and should be treated as such."
The products will even be stocked in men's bathrooms, to ensure they are just as accessible to trans students. As UCS President Viet Nguyen told the Huffington Post, the initiative aims to recognize "that menstruation is experienced by more than just those who identify as women and that not all people who identify as women menstruate."
The group is also seeking to put sanitary disposal bins in men's restrooms.
The UCS states that Brown is "one of the first institutions in higher education to implement such a program at this scale," and it hopes it will inspire other universities to follow its lead.
Efforts such as these, on campus and elsewhere, can make a significant difference for people with limited means. Nguyen told Newsweek, "Low-income students struggle with having the necessary funding for food, let alone tampons."
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