After a three-month-long period of silence following the initial announcement, it has been confirmed that NYU will begin providing free menstrual hygiene products throughout campus within the next two weeks.
In a press release published in October 2016, NYU students leading the Tampon Tax movement said the university would begin circulating products in the spring semester.
“The senior leadership of NYU has informed student leaders that it is convening a working group to propose a pilot program for the distribution of menstrual hygiene products at no cost to students,” the statement said. “The group will comprise both students and staff, and the pilot program will be implemented in the upcoming spring semester.”
It further said that the working group was supposed to make pilot program recommendations to Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Marc Wais by December 23, but since this statement, students have received few updates on the movement’s progress.
Wais agreed to implement a pilot program during the spring semester with the support of a working group, and the team consisted of administrators from the Department of Student Affairs and Facilities Management as well as members of the Student Senators Council, Students for Sexual Respect and the Feminist Society. He said that the majority of preparation for the pilot program will be completed within the next two weeks.
“Facilities Management is currently installing new dispensers or converting current dispensers to allow for free distribution of MHPs,” Wais said in an email. “We anticipate the bulk of this work to be completed within the next two weeks and will coordinate the promotion of the pilot accordingly.”
Wais said that no cost MHPs will be available in 15 select restrooms on campus, including restrooms in the Kimmel Center for University Life, Bobst Library and the Silver Center for the Arts on the Washington Square campus. They will also be available in Rogers Hall on the Brooklyn campus. He said that some gender neutral and men’s restrooms will also be designated facilities for the pilot program.
Gallatin senior Josy Jablons serves as the president of Students for Sexual Respect, and she has collaborated with NYU administration on feminist issues such as sexual assault in the past. Jablons said she was not surprised at their willingness to back this program.
“With past campaigns regarding sexual health and wellness on campus, I have found administration particularly receptive to student input,” Jablons said via email. “The MHPs working group — composed of students, health center administrators and facilities management — will be evaluating the program right from the start so that we can establish an effective system, one that will grow and advance over time. My primary goal is to guarantee that the campaign outlives my time here at NYU.”
But Jablons said that the efforts to provide free MHPs to people should not stop with NYU — she hopes to see other college campuses and high schools will move in this direction, since she believes it is a universal need for students. So students in need of MHPs have been anticipating the implementation of this program since it was announced last semester.
Gallatin sophomore Sabrina Illiano studies human rights, and she said that providing free MHPs could potentially normalize the discussion of menstruation at NYU.
“By distributing free menstrual products, I hope it contributes to a more inclusive, period-positive atmosphere where menstruation is destigmatized,” Illiano said. “Menstrual products need to be available to everyone who menstruates — including gender nonconforming people [and] trans people.”
Email Stephanie Brooks at [email protected]