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Amherst College offers free menstrual products for ‘students who menstruate’

Next up: free or reduced price ‘condoms, dental dams, lube, cold-care kits’

Student leaders at Amherst College are eager to avoid perpetuating the harmful stereotype that only women menstruate.

They’re rolling out a pilot program, presumably funded by mandatory student fees, that provides “tampons and pads, among other things” in women’s and gender-neutral restrooms in a campus library, The Amherst Student reports.

The program is for “students who menstruate,” who unlike “students who don’t menstruate” have to bear the cost of feminine hygiene products, according to Amanda Vann, director of health education.

Indeed, the only mention of “women” in the news article and an accompanying op-ed is the women’s restrooms and the campus Women’s and Gender Center, which already provides free menstrual products.

The Association of Amherst Students agreed to fund the program at the request of the Reproductive Justice Alliance, an intersectional abortion-rights group. The president of the student government, Silvia Sotolongo, is an RJA member.

MORE: Harvard will provide free menstrual products to ‘menstruators’

While it’s presented as a “supplement” to students whose biology makes them female, Sotolongo told the Student that organizers would like to expand the program to three more buildings and possibly dorms, whose resident counselors already distribute free condoms.

They haven’t discussed “the feasibility or cost associated with that explicitly,” she said. (The College Fix is taking a guess that Sotolongo uses she/her pronouns, since the newspaper doesn’t use any and Sotolongo doesn’t provide any.)

Vann, the director of health education, foresees the pilot program as one of many to “expand accessibility of health products currently in the works.”

Another proposal under consideration, according to Vann: “a healthcare vending machine” with free or reduced-cost products, from menstrual products to “condoms, dental dams, lube, cold-care kits” and other items that students “need.” (Vann’s pronouns are also left out of the Student. The only person identified by any pronouns is Paul Gallegos, director of student activities, who is “he.”)

In their op-ed on the program, Sotolongo and Lisa Zheutlin say the program is necessary because “menstrual products are generally overpriced” and the “quantity” required during menstruation “can be a social, academic and economic barrier.”

They don’t make clear where all the funding is coming from, but said the student government led by Sotolongo was “extremely helpful in garnering funding for the program, along with” Vann and Gallegos.

The presumably female writers encourage students to liberally take from the library baskets of feminine hygiene products: “Essentially, the more interest we get, the more grounds we have for funding the program.”

Read the news article and op-ed.

MORE: Sexuality course goes with ‘people with penises’ and ‘people with vaginas’

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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