Menstrual Hygiene Product Accessibility at Simmons College

By Jennifer Ives

Staff Writer

As Simmons is a women-centric school, one thing makes sense— almost every bathroom you enter will have one of those old enemies we love and hate: the tampon dispenser. Necessary and frustrating, as many of us have been faced with wondering why it requires change and why the day we need it is the only day it has none.


Here at Simmons, however, is another puzzle. Depending on what building you are in, hygiene product prices in bathroom dispensers vary. Many of the main college building bathrooms are free of charge, but when last checked, the ones in the athletic center on the residential campus still charged per tampon or pad. This can lead to confusion, desperate lunges for a bathroom that hopefully has a free dispenser, and on one memorable occasion for the writer, calling a friend to go down a floor and fetch one, as I was out of change and in the wrong bathroom.

Menstrual hygiene products are not used due to choice, but rather necessity. Pads and tampons alike, the most common disposable forms of menstrual hygiene products, are invariably annoying when purchased from dispensers since their small and thin sizes are designed to be usable by the most number of people, rather than the most comfortable for you, the way one could purchase a variety of sizes and styles by the box at a store.

The style and brand of tampons that Simmons dispensers are filled with cost just twelve cents a piece if purchased in 500 piece bulk from Amazon, and likely even less if purchased in much larger bulk directly from suppliers as the school likely does. To charge up to twenty five cents a piece instead of providing them as a service to the student population is a puzzling choice. While not charging for tampons and pads at all would likely raise the facility expenditures a few hundred or even a thousand or so dollars a year, the impact it would have on students’ comfort levels and dignity knowing they will be able to attend classes and participate in the community without worrying about carrying change or their own stash all the time would be unparalleled. Considering that Simmons gladly provides free internal and external condoms and lube in the Student Activities Center, frequent opportunities to create decorations through student run clubs, and are even subsidizing the performance of pop star Jesse McCartney performing here in a few weeks, it’s a wonder why they don’t streamline the dispensers and simplify student’s lives in a way that would have a small but real impact on their stress levels and day to day success.