We Shouldn’t Be Burdened By Tampon Costs, Period

Josy Jablons and Megan Racklin

It didn’t take long after arriving at NYU to know where we could find free condoms on campus: residence halls, the Health Promotion Office and other school-sponsored events. It was clear that NYU cared about our sexual health — sort of. While we could obtain condoms with relative ease, we struggled to access menstrual hygiene products.

On average, we each spend about $10 a month on MHPs — $10 that students who don’t menstruate never have to spend. Together, over the course of four years at NYU, that’s $960. At an expensive university where many students face large amounts of debt, our budgets can’t always accommodate those $10 a month. We shouldn’t have to choose between MHPs and other necessities like pricey textbooks, groceries or MetroCards. Our bodies shouldn’t have to be more expensive than other bodies.

Finances are not the only obstacle here. It’s often difficult to predict exactly when your period will start, how long it will last or how many MHPs you’ll need over the course of a day. Between the two of us, we can recall numerous times when we’ve had to stuff wads of toilet paper in our pants, return to class and sit for an hour in discomfort. We’re often distracted, plagued by questions like: Am I staining the seat? Is the bathroom dispensary stocked? Do I even have a quarter? Wait, what did my professor just say? This, in itself, is an impediment to our education.

We are not alone in this. It is common to run into a student in the bathroom who is desperately seeking a tampon or pad. The situation is even more troublesome for menstruating students who use men’s restrooms, since they may not find anyone in the bathroom they are comfortable asking for MHPs. NYU is committed to ensuring that all students feel safe using bathrooms consistent with their gender identity, and yet, to fully realize this goal, there must be access to free MHPs in all university bathrooms.


By making MHPs inaccessible to those who need them, NYU implicitly accepts that barriers to education based on anatomy are permissible. This is unfair and discriminatory. NYU should take immediate steps to address this by providing free MHPs in all restrooms in major school buildings, on both campuses. Additionally, free supplies should be located in convenient locations such as the Health Promotion Office and Student Resource Centers.

Other schools around the country, including Brown University and the University of Minnesota already recognize the needs of students who menstruate by providing free MHPs. NYU, however, has not been receptive to our call for similar action. On Thursday, Student Senators will introduce a resolution appealing for support from the Student Senators Council in our efforts. We, alongside the rest of Students for Sexual Respect, will continue pushing for this until we see change.

Josy Jablons and Megan Racklin are co-founders of Students for Sexual Respect. Email Jablons at [email protected]



  1. This is awesome! I am currently the director of Advocacy and have been working to free pads and tampons I’m our building I would love to work with you to make it a university wide thing!

  2. “By making MHPs inaccessible to those who need them, NYU implicitly accepts that barriers to education based on anatomy are permissible. This is unfair and discriminatory”

    Josy and Megan, this is offensive on so many levels. Do either of you simpletons understand there are impoverished girls in developing countries who can not afford MHP’s and miss out on education as a result? Girls who would die to go to a college like NYU, but can’t even go to high school because they have to work to support themselves from a young age?

    Reality check to Josy and Megan: you are both rich American girls, whose parents are paying $60,000/year for you to attend an expensive college YOU chose. Because you are too lazy to carry a tampon or pad in your purse, you cry you are being “oppressed” and “discriminated against”?

    Grow up, ladies. The ONLY thing oppressing you is your own laziness and ignorance. And keep track of your cycle – I have been doing this since I was 12. If a 12 year old can do it, an adult woman sure can. There are even mobile apps for these things. Also there are MHP dispensers in all women’s bathrooms. Don’t tell me you can’t spare a quarter when you’re attending the most expensive college in the country, all while crying about oppression.

    If the idea of tracking your cycle or keeping a tampon in your purse is SO difficult for you, go to the Health Center and ask for BC or IUD’s or even to have your tubes tied because you are too mentally incompetent to handle a basic bodily function.

  3. I highly recommend buying a diva cup. It is $30 and saves all the waste created from tampons and costs of buying tampons. Some women in the world use cloth so being grateful to have the opportunity to have a choice is a privilege. Diva cup will save you lots of money and save all the waste especially to horrible plastic applicator waste and not to mention bleach and other crap in tampons.

  4. While I support making tampons & etc. tax free, completely free is a bridge too far. What next? Glasses and contact lenses? Hair care products for those of us with kinky hair? Or, heck, what about food–free food on campus? But then you’d probably insist on free range, organic, nonGMO, gluten free and from Whole Foods. Come on, take some responsibility for yourself. You can carry a day’s supply of tampons or pads easily in any purse or backpack in the same space as your expensive iPhone or make-up takes up (do you want free make-up too?). $480 over the course of 4 years (nice try doubling up to make the expense seem bigger, btw) to manage one’s menstrual needs is not terribly significant. However, I question your math.

    A box of 40 OB tampons is about $8. An equal number of pantiliners, about $3. That $11 supply would last the average person 2-3 months, and that’s top-shelf. Imagine what can be saved if you shopped store or off-brands.

    Perhaps you might consider attending a community college, then transfer to a local state university to save some money, or are you too good for that?


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