The University of Rochester recently launched a pilot program on campus, providing free tampons and pads in on-campus bathrooms, including those that are for men or designated as gender-neutral. The program isn’t going quite how Student Government expected, though.
Just over 11,000 students attend Rochester University. But in the first two weeks of its Pads and Tampons Initiative, the university has gone through nearly 16,000 tampons and pads—in large part because people keep grabbing them in bulk, sometimes along with the baskets they’re stored in, the student newspaper reported.
Student leaders initially claimed that the tampons and pads were disappearing so quickly because “people need them.” But they soon confessed that pranksters and thieves were making off with their supplies.
In some cases, the baskets went missing as soon as they were placed in bathrooms, before they could even be stocked. And in one men’s bathroom, the baskets have disappeared three times since April 3, the Campus Times reported.
The initiative hasn’t even lasted a month, and already the university has burned through more than half of their $5,000 budget for menstrual products.
When students were debating the proposal last semester, they cited a Free the Tampons Foundation study, which suggested than 86 percent of women sometimes haven’t had menstrual products when they need them.
But access may be a bigger problem in the city of Rochester, now that the university has begun its initiative.
Last week, one member of the Students’ Association made an “emergency run” to a local store and “bought them out of pads and tampons, to the tune of nearly $1,200,” the Campus Times reported.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.