Living on the campus of Florida A&M University (FAMU) as a young, maturing woman can sometimes come as an inconvenience to a female’s menstrual health. Condoms are readily available for free in residence halls, however menstrual products are not.
Female students account for more than half of the entire student population at FAMU, according to the university’s official website. If women make up more than half of the entire student body, one would think that access to feminine health products wouldn’t be so difficult to obtain.
Director of Student Health Services Tanya Tatum shared her thoughts on how this affects female students on FAMU’s campus.
“It is always a challenge to ensure that you have adequate and appropriate supplies when you are on a tight budget as many college students are. Remember, this is not an issue that only affects students. Colleges employ many women of child-bearing age that would most likely need to use menstrual products.”
Student health services, located in Foote-Hilyer, is the only place on campus to access menstrual health products for free. However, its location and hours of operations can be an inconvenience to female students, as it does close at 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and at 4:30 p.m. on Fridays.
The campus bookstore serves as another alternative to purchase menstrual products; however, it closes at 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and at 5 p.m., and 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday respectively.
“I am not sure about access across campus, but student health services has for several years provided access to free menstrual products in the clinic. They are in the women’s bathroom where they are easily accessed,” said Tatum.
When asked about not having easy access to menstrual products but having access to condoms in residence halls, freshman pre-nursing student Maiya Henfield said it does not affect her as much as others.
“It doesn’t really bother me about not having easy access,” Henfield stated. “I always get enough products, but it would be nice to have easier access to those products when it comes to things like having emergencies.”
Many campuses across the country provide students with menstrual dispensaries throughout their residence halls; unfortunately, at FAMU that is not the case.
“If you make a decision to provide free menstrual products, it should be on the basis of what you think you should provide for students and what you are able to financially provide,” said Tatum.
Aliyah Tilman, a freshman chemistry student, also shared her thoughts on access to feminine health products on campus.
“I think FAMU housing should offer menstrual products. It makes me feel like they care more about the sexual parts of our health, but not one of the most important things that women go through every month,” stated Tilman.
With the recent closing of Walgreens located on Adams street, and stores like Walmart and Target a good distance from FAMU’s campus, the nearest local drugstore for students to purchase menstrual products would be the CVS Pharmacy located on W Pensacola street.
This serves as an inconvenience to students without their own form of transportation, and most freshman students fall under this category because of the university’s policy against first year students having cars on campus.
“It would be very convenient if FAMU had dispensaries. It would be a lot cheaper as well and convenient for those that don’t have transportation to go to the store,” said Henfield.
According to U.S. News, the state of Florida is one of 13 states that have eliminated sales tax on feminine hygiene products; however, that does not account for the substantial price a woman can expect to spend on menstrual health products each year.
The average woman spends about $84 a year on tampons or pads alone, according to HuffingtonPost.com. That does not include the expenses of medication for cramps, new underwear due to stains, and other products such as pantyliners or feminine wipes.
Having access to free menstrual health products or having dispensaries with discounted products located conveniently around campus and in residence halls could not only save college students money, but save us a lot of time.