Tampons now free in campus bathrooms

Machines dispensing free tampons began appearing in restrooms in January.

Alex Robinson

During the past few years, University restrooms have been slowly decaying.

But on Jan. 18, Facilities Management began a plan to improve restroom conditions that included installing free tampon machines in the women’s restrooms.

Facilities Management plans to install one free tampon machine in every University building and has already installed the machines in all of the buildings on the East Bank, said Ruthann Manlet, a Facilities Management employee and organizer of the plan. High-traffic restrooms will also provide free sanitary pads, she said.

The tampon machines should be installed in all University buildings by mid-April, Manlet said.

Free tampon machines are being installed because most of the old machines didn’t work, she said.

“Most of the machines have been broken on campus and the money that we were getting from the product was not taking care of the maintenance of the machines and the cost of the product, so we thought this would be a good thing to do for the community,” Manlet said.

The tampon machines are also being installed to reduce vandalism. According to Manlet, people would break into the old machines and steal the money out of them.

“When the machines were fully functional 15 years ago, we were getting vandalized all of the time,” she said.

The tampons are meant to be used in emergencies and not for convenience, but there is no way to prevent people from taking all of the tampons out of a machine, she said.

“Over time we came to find that if professors or students know that a product is always there, they will stop taking all of them,” Manlet said.

So far, Facilities Management has spent $1,600 on tampons and $500 on installation. Each new machine costs about $100.

Public affairs graduate student Megan Thomas was the coordinator of a similar plan to get free tampon machines installed on campus in 1994 and 1995. She said she is happy to see the change.

“It’s not that most women wouldn’t mind paying 50 cents for a tampon, it’s just that in many places they aren’t available at all,” Thomas said.

Other students said that the installation of free tampon machines wasn’t necessary.

“I don’t think it’s a good use of students’ money because it only applies to girls,” psychology senior Sandra Thompson said.

Biology sophomore Kate Simantz said that if the funding for the plan came from students’ pockets it would be a waste.

But according to Manlet, the cost of the machines and product comes out of the Facilities Management budget, which hasn’t increased due to the machines.