Free Menstrual Hygiene Products Not Always Available

Free tampons in the bathroom of the Forbes building.

The NYU Menstrual Hygiene Products web page on the Student Health Center website does not list consistent information about where free menstrual hygiene products can be found on campus. In addition, the free product dispensaries in the Kimmel Center for University Life are mislabeled as charging 25 cents, according to an investigation by WSN.

The web page also claims that seven restrooms have free menstrual products available. However, that web page provides a link to an online survey to report empty dispensers, and it lists 14 restrooms with free menstrual products. Five of the restrooms listed on the NYU Menstrual Hygiene Products web page are not included in the survey, and only two of the restrooms listed in the survey are included on the NYU Menstrual Product web page.

One of these restrooms, the Elmer Holves Bobst Library LL2 all-gender restroom, is indefinitely closed for maintenance. The other restroom, the Kimmel seventh floor women’s restroom, is mislabeled as requiring 25 cents for menstrual hygiene products.

Screenshots of information about the availability of free menstrual hygiene products as listed on the NYU Menstrual Hygiene Products web page and on the feedback and empty dispensary survey available on the NYU Menstrual Hygiene Products web page. The red boxes indicate restrooms which claim to have free menstrual hygiene products which are listed on both pages.

While restrooms on the first, second and seventh floors of Kimmel are all required to have free menstrual hygiene products, the office workers on those floors are responsible for reporting empty dispensaries, according to a representative from the Student Government Office. But, reporting empty dispensaries is an added task to existing work duties, and dispensaries are not always refilled immediately.

After a petition in fall 2016 lead by the all-university group Students for Sexual Respect, NYU began providing free menstrual hygiene products in certain restrooms around the Washington Square and Brooklyn campuses. The availability of these products began as a pilot program on October 2016 and the program started running at full capacity in February 2017.

According to Chief of Staff of Student Affairs Elizabeth Kuzina, stock of menstrual hygiene products in all NYU restrooms is checked by Facilities and Operations custodial staff on their regular cleaning cycle, which rotates several times per day. However, CAS freshman Anna Liu said that the inconsistent availability of menstrual hygiene products has discouraged her from relying upon NYU restrooms for menstrual hygiene products.

“I knew that the university did offer free [menstrual hygiene] products to students, but I would never expect them to stock [the dispensers] frequently,” Liu said. “I would much rather buy my own products so I would definitely have a supply at any time.”

Kuzina said that the dispensers in restrooms might be empty due to individuals taking large quantities of product at one time, which she discouraged.

“It is our hope that students will use the [Student Health Center] office pick-up when they would like a larger supply — there is really no limit — and use the restroom dispensers for immediate needs,” Kuzina said.

Kuzina said that any student struggling financially can visit the Student Health Center or the Student Life, Center for Multicultural Education and Programs and LGBTQ Offices in Kimmel, as well as the Student Activities Office and the Student Activities Office in Brooklyn to pick up as many free products as they need. 

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 20 print edition. 

Email Nicole Rosenthal at [email protected] 

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