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Column: MSU needs to care more about students' menstrual cycles

April 10, 2019
<p>Beaumont Tower on Jan. 10, 2019.</p>

Beaumont Tower on Jan. 10, 2019.

Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

Let’s drop the stigma and talk about periods.

Talking about periods is still taboo in 2019. Ridiculous, I know. Menstrual cycles are the normal natural changes a woman’s reproductive cycle goes through, allowing for pregnancy. They are not something that can be controlled.

Imagine menstruating, but being unable to afford feminine hygiene products, experiencing cramps and aches, but having no time to make a trip to see a doctor or head to the pharmacy or being far away from home for the first time and not having a womanly figure to give advice to you.

Michigan State has been trying to change the way it provides feminine products for months. In December, the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, decided to collaborate with other services on campus to provide ‘emergency’ feminine hygiene products to students on campus. Several places on campus, like the International Center and Student Services, already offer products to students who ask for them.

With that being said, what MSU is doing isn’t enough for its students’ menstrual cycles. Students should be able to receive products without having to ask. Not all students are comfortable enough asking others for products. Some women like to keep their periods understandably confidential. While it is promised that no questions will be asked in regard to students asking for feminine hygiene products, some students might feel embarrassed, which could ultimately lead to them not taking advantage of what is being offered to them.

What can be changed in order to fix this? Well, RAs, or Residential Assistants, across campus provide free condoms either in the restrooms or outside their doors. It seems to work well. Students don’t have to feel apprehensive about asking for condoms, rather they can just take one, or a few, and go on their way.

Feminine hygiene products could potentially be treated the same way, but in a larger quantity. For every floor, there are about 30 to 40 residents. If an RA was given two large packs of products a month by the university, then students who have a hard time providing their own pads and tampons could take as many as they needed. These products could be left in restrooms or community areas.

People don’t abuse the condoms freely given to them. The program is pushing for safe sex. Women would not abuse hygiene products readily provided to them. The program would be pushing for safer and cleaner menstrual cycles.

There is a problem with the way periods are treated in society. A particular stigma follows them, despite it being a normal body function. Women are taught to hide their periods.

If someone had a nose bleed, would you make him or her struggle for a tissue? Would you tell them to “suck it up” or “move on?" Or would you keep the toilet paper and paper towels stocked by the hundreds in restrooms across campus?

What makes a period any different than another bodily function? Is it because it’s gendered? Is there a larger problem to solve here? I think so. While it can’t be fixed by offering college students free hygiene products, programs like this are bound to bring about change. It's the bare minimum, but I do believe MSU is capable of providing this for its students.

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