Ninety percent of female students said they wish Rowan stocked tampon and pad dispensing machines in campus bathrooms, according to an unscientific poll taken of 50 female students willing to participate on campus.
Whit reporters conducted this survey in response to a recent article by Kristin Guglietti for another campus publication called Hey Marlene. Published on Sept. 29, the senior English major investigated tampon and pad dispensers in bathrooms on campus all throughout last semester.
In no bathroom did she find a single tampon or pad. If there were dispensers, she found they were empty. A semester later, the dispensers remain empty with “NOT STOCKED” signs taped to them. Guglietti’s story has received over 160 interactions on Facebook alone.
Guglietti found that supplies were given out for free at information desks in the student, recreation and wellness centers. Given this scenario, women were asked if they’d be comfortable asking building staff for a tampon or pad. Thirty-five answered no, 13 said yes and two said they were not comfortable answering the question. This means 70 percent of these women would not ask for a care product if needed.
“I don’t feel comfortable asking someone for feminine care products,” one respondent, who believes Rowan should stock the dispensers, wrote in the comment section of the survey.
This echoes Guglietti’s view that asking someone for care products “places pressure and fear of embarrassment on any woman seeking one.”
“If there is a free condom Friday that is sort of for men, then why is there no certain day for women tampons?”
Another student who wished the dispensers were stocked wrote, “If there is a free condom Friday that is sort of for men, then why is there no certain day for women tampons?”
The day after Guglietti’s article was published online, Rowan tweeted to her: “Hi Kristin. We’ve passed your article along to the administration. Thanks!”
Since the release of Guglietti’s piece, Assistant Vice President (AVP) of Student Affairs Naveen Khan created an online poll asking students where they get menstrual supplies and how much they pay for them. One question asks: “How often have you needed a pad/tampon/liner in an emergency, and did not have one on you?”
Khan said she is doing “everything in her power” to resolve the dispenser issue, and that it is one of her main objectives as AVP.
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Richard Jones said the reason the dispensers are not stocked is because students can get free supplies at the student, wellness and recreation centers, and he does not want students to pay for these supplies.
“It’s expensive to be a student. Everything adds up,” Jones said.
He said that the centers pay for the menstrual supplies they give out, with some donations, and that dispensers have not been stocked in at least five years.
Jones also said that problems with inventory control was another reason for keeping the supplies out of bathrooms, and that the information desks never run out. Jones said they have no “cement plans” to stock the bathrooms, but if students want to see them stocked, they can personally email Jones with their request.
At other colleges
Rowan is not the only college or university in the area to leave dispensers empty. Rutgers University stopped stocking the dispensers because they were being vandalized and burglarized, and the cost of product and repairs was a “lose-lose proposition,” according to Executive Director of Operations and Services Dianne Gravatt.
The College of New Jersey has not had dispensers since the late 1980s because of the cost of upkeep and lack of use. The only supplies available on campus are the ones for sale in their convenience store, and a small bin of “gratis” items in the Office of Student Health Services.
“But that is only for students stopping in and is not widely used,” said Head Media Relations Officer Tom Beaver.
Stockton University experienced vandalism and robbery, so now they sell the products at their campus bookstores. However, the dispensers are restocked upon repair, according to John J. Fritsch, the assistant director of facilities management and plant operations.
Montclair State University has stocked dispensers at all times. “We at Montclair State University are committed to providing feminine hygiene products to our students,”
Assistant Vice President of Facilities Services Leonard Jones wrote in an email.
Additional reporting by Ellie Leick.
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