“I think we need to do more than simply remove the stigma around periods. Smith College, which has posited itself as a progressive institution for gender and sexuality, has to understand that accessibility remains a serious issue for menstrual hygiene,” Jade Mosley wrote in the Smith College publication, The Sophian. Smith College is an all-women’s college in Northampton, Massachusetts is known for its liberal mindset and policies – but one student thinks it isn’t quite progressive enough yet.

Mosley penned an essay demanding that the school provide men’s restrooms on campus with menstrual products. She explains:

“House bathrooms and other public restrooms on campus are not equipped with pad or tampon dispensers. While these products are sold at the Smith College Bookstore in a spot central to campus, surely, taking menstruation seriously means doing more than just acknowledging that some students do it. If students are guaranteed access to toilet paper, hand soap, and paper towels in any given restroom, why not menstrual products? All of these materials serve the purpose of maintaining hygiene. Only one is more expensive than the rest. Students are not expected to trek halfway across campus for toilet paper, and it stands to reason that they should not have to do so for pads or tampons. So, what can be done?”

Mosley maintained that the institution must address the problem rather than try to pretend it doesn’t exist.

“Smith should pioneer by taking the strangely radical position of understanding a period for what it is; a cycle common to those with uteruses which requires hygienic care.”

The writer thinks that high-quality menstrual products should be available in college bathrooms so that students may use them at any time.

“Where students may do their business, they should also be able to easily manage their menstrual cycles. Similar to toilet paper, these products should be made available in large enough quantities that there is no pervasive worry that any bathroom might be completely out. This applies to individual toilets and rooms with multiple stalls.”

According to a student, other institutions have already made significant strides by including more menstrual supplies in the restroom. “Since 2007, the University of Minnesota has provided free tampons in all campus bathrooms. At the University of Washington, a college-wide program has made menstrual products free and accessible in nearly all campus restrooms.”

She said, “Clearly, institutions of higher education are capable of providing free menstrual products to students. Not doing so is a deliberate choice, and it sends a clear message to menstruating students about the lack of care for their wellbeing.”

Mosley believes that the administration at Smith College is failing to address gender concerns, despite the fact that it is a school dedicated to women’s advancement.

“Attending a historically women’s college is not a safe haven from gendered societal problems, and Smith is not exempt from the widespread effects of period poverty by virtue alone. Supporting students of varying identities requires institutional action — and a fairly simple one. I only ask that Smith takes the hygienic needs of its student body seriously.”

Do you think menstrual supplies should be more readily available?