While Brown University has grabbed headlines for providing free tampons to both men and women on campus, another Ivy League school is canceling a similar program because almost nobody bothered using the tampons.
Last school year at Columbia University, the Columbia College Student Council (CCSC) lobbied hard for the school to start providing free tampons and pads for all students. At the time, one student editorial argued free tampons were needed to “deconstruct period shaming,” and show institutional support for “people who menstruate” (as opposed to “women”), and circumvent the “tampon tax” of women having to pay more for their personal hygiene. (RELATED: Even Men Get Tampons At Brown)
Columbia officials quickly acquiesced to the pressure, and launched a pilot program in March that supplied free tampons to anybody who wanted them.
But the pilot program ended up being a bust. According to the Columbia Daily Spectator, over the course of the entire spring term the school distributed just 635 tampons and 200 pads to some 137 students, representing less than one percent of the school’s approximately 15,000 women. Women typically use 15-20 tampons per menstrual cycle, so the tampons Columbia distributed are only enough to cover the periods of about 40 women for a single month.
Now, Columbia has canceled the pilot program to avoid piling up thousands of unused tampons. A similar program to give out free toilet paper was canceled as well, for the same reason.
“They had too much stock and not enough people were using it,” student and CCSC member Abby Porter told the Spectator.
Porter added that she would be lobbying for the school to keep the supply of free tampons flowing, on the grounds that tampons are an absolute necessity while toilet paper is a mere luxury.
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