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Feminine Product Access Opinion.JPG

Feminine hygiene products lay out on a desk.

OPINION: Free menstrual products needed on UNM campus

Across the University of New Mexico campus bathrooms, there is a distinct lack of menstrual products. Not only is there a lack of free products, but the overarching lack of access generally is also apparent. How is it that there is access to free condoms in every dorm, the Student Union Building and various other buildings, yet not free menstrual products? Both are essential: one for safe sex and the other for sanitary needs for something that is natural.

As of fall 2022, 14,993 female-identifying students enrolled at UNM, according to UNM’s Office of Institutional Analytics. This number does not account for other individuals who mensturate who might not identify as female, making the actual number of those who need these products even larger. This is a sizable number of students who need these products. Providing them would not only fill that necessity, but also afford students more convenience in an already stressful educational life.

In Zimmerman library, there is nearly no access to products — to purchase or otherwise — in any of the bathrooms. Only one bathroom had access to products, and it was out.

The Student Union Building has some dispensaries; when last checked on Saturday, Dec. 3  products were low and required quarters to purchase. How many students even carry around change nowadays? Even if a student happens to have quarters on them, the University shouldn’t charge for products when there are already thousands being paid in tuition by students. Some of the dispensers, if you can find one, don’t work (the only one I could find ate my quarter). 

In 2017, the facilities department released a statement saying they don’t stock the dispensers due to theft and vandalism. It’s unclear when they started stocking the Student Union Building again, but the previous statement says the original stocking was meant to be a “revenue generation scheme.” Instead of helping students, it was just another scheme to pull more money from college students. A 500 pack of tampons for a dispenser only costs $83, according to Global Industrial — a small price to pay to have at least one or two dispensers filled in bathrooms across campus.

The University of New Mexico has proof that free menstrual products work via the film department, which has recently put free products in their bathrooms for students who are in need. So, if it works there, why not expand to the rest of campus? It would be an excellent way to help students, especially in emergency situations where that time of the month starts unexpectedly. No students should have to search through several bathrooms to find access to necessary products, nor should they have to hopefully have quarters on them to pay for a product.

Elizabeth Secor is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @esecor2003

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