Dorms Provide Free Menstrual Products, Three Years After Student Push

The student group NYU Students for Sexual Respect called for free menstrual products in 2016 — now, after coordinating with the Office of Student Affairs, it’s a reality on the Washington Square campus.

NYU dorms started offering free menstrual products. (Staff Photo by Elaine Chen)

Originally a small pilot program at Alumni Residence Hall, NYU now provides free menstrual products through all its residence halls.

The program was spearheaded in 2016 by NYU Students for Sexual Respect, an organization that promotes discourse about sexual health on campus. That year, SSR asked administrators to offer free products, saying it was unfair for students to incur added costs for having periods, and the Student Senators Council passed a resolution that proposed a budget to provide the service. The resolution was written in response to a petition that received over 3,000 signatures and an op-ed published in WSN by the SSR.

Student Affairs Chief of Staff Elizabeth Kuzina has been working alongside SSR and student government to oversee the program internally, with SSR and the Inter-Residence Hall Council presenting a proposal on the topic last year.

Uma Patel, the vice president of advocacy at the IRHC and a CAS sophomore, said she is thrilled to see NYU and universities nationwide taking the initiative to provide products to students.

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“We are all really excited,” Patla said in a statement to WSN. “We are seeing the shipments of these products come in at various rates, each dorm is getting them the second they arrive. It’s great to see that it is happening so fast.”   

Currently, the initiative provides menstrual hygiene products to all dorms on the Washington Square campus. It’s unclear whether Brooklyn dorms Othmer Residence Hall and St. George Clark Hall will be participating in the program, according to SSR Co-President Tina Wang.

Issues of NYU providing menstrual products has been a problem for a while. NYU’s Student Health Center’s website has a published list of 10 restrooms and seven offices that supply free menstrual products for students. These locations have had their issues, however, including some of the listed bathrooms being mislabeled and some bathrooms, including those at Bobst Library, still charging 25 cents per product.

Students are excited to see the university caring about student health but think there’s room to do more. 

“It’s great that NYU is doing this but the problem is not over,” Tisch first-year Kendall Maddox said. “If you go to campus stores, period products still cost way more than at Target. Inflating [menstrual] products is not fair.”

LS sophomore Chanel Pulido was happy with the change.

“Having access to period products are a human right,” Pulido said. “I’m glad NYU is recognizing this and promoting its accessibility.”

Wang said one way NYU will be looking to expand the program is by having the university’s global sites follow through. According to Wang, NYU Abu Dhabi offers menstrual products for free and NYU Shanghai at least offers pads at their health center.

“I’m not very sure about other global campuses, but we’re working with the Global Vice Chair of SGA to look into who is providing them,” Wang wrote in a Facebook message to WSN.

Another potential improvement would be addressing sustainability issues associated with menstrual products — which are notoriously bad for the environment — according to Wang.

“That was definitely part of our planning back in spring, but in order for Student Affairs to sign on we had to cut costs wherever we could,” Wang wrote. “I think that once the kinks are sorted out, and we are able to have a line of communication with admin, that is definitely on our list of things to revisit.”

Student Affairs will look to coordinate with NYU Chief Sustainability Officer Cecil Scheib on how to make the program less wasteful, according to Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Marc Wais.

Email Mina Mohammadi at [email protected]

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