The case for free period products

Why Ferris should stock every bathroom with pads and tampons

Almost a year after Michigan’s “tampon tax” was rolled back, crucial hygiene products are still not as accessible as they should be.

In a perfect world, every bathroom would be stocked with complementary pads and tampons. According to Global Citizen, the people of Scotland, public-school students in New Zealand and Kenya, college students in Illinois and many others already live in this utopia. So why not Ferris students?

Ferris prides itself on its walkable campus. On my freshman tour, I was told that I would never need to walk more than 15 minutes to get to class or the dining halls. However, with only one establishment on campus selling boxes of pads and tampons, these 15 minutes can still be more than one can afford.

The Market, our “on campus convenience store,” sells everything from hot meals to cold medicine. It is the sole building at the university where students can purchase boxes of menstrual products. While The Market’s presence is acknowledged and appreciated, the store is located over half a mile away from Starr, our main class building, and it doesn’t open until noon. Not to mention the fact that there is no public bathroom in The Market, making things even more inconvenient for students buying period products.

Ferris Outfitters, the one-stop-shop for university merchandise, school supplies and sushi, is located in the heart of north campus. Its convenient home in the David L. Eisler Center brings in nearly constant foot traffic. Despite its wide array of products, a student in need of a box of tampons would still be out of luck at Outfitters.

Let it be known that there have been attempted remedies for this issue. Some kind souls have left small baskets of menstrual products in select bathrooms. I most often see this in the Arts and Science Commons, where professors use the bathrooms more than students. These baskets can run out quickly, and it is not any anonymous professor’s responsibility to self-fund these products for others.

Ferris’ bathrooms are also equipped with archaic metal dispensers that eat coins and provide dollar-store grade, stringless tampons. It is easier to get better products at an actual dollar store, and those establishments accept currency other than increasingly rare coins.

Nancy Kramer is a founder of Free the Tampons, a non-profit organization that advocates for complementary menstrual products in every public bathroom. She believes that these products “should be treated just like toilet paper, because in fact, they are just like toilet paper.”

Dozens of organizations across the globe are dedicated to reducing what they call “period poverty.” NielsenIQ reported that between July 2021 and July 2022, the price of pads increased by 8.9%, while the price of tampons increased by 10.8%. In a country where the average woman still makes 17% less than the average man — these numbers vary by race, location and occupation — charging people assigned female at birth unreasonable money for crucial hygiene products is disgusting.

The Ferris community deserves to come to school without the worry of experiencing period poverty. It is within our means, and even our moral obligation, to provide students with pads and tampons in every public campus bathroom.