University Offers Free Pads & Tampons & We're Ready for This to Be the New Normal

The student government at Brown University is taking a stand against the stigma women face during their period by footing the bill to stock 70 bathrooms around campus with tampons and pads -- even the men's rooms -- and it's about time. This is feminist heaven and every school should follow Brown's lead.


This is coming in the middle of growing calls on the state and local levels across the country to repeal the "tampon tax" that treats feminine hygiene products as luxuries rather than necessities and charges women to use them. And we're not talking a small charge here: A rough estimate puts the cost of having a period at about $18,000 over a lifetime.

More from CafeMom: The Tampon Tax Is Becoming a Thing of the Past -- About Bloody Time

So. This needs to change, and it's particularly heartening to see the changes starting at schools.

Brown's student body president, Viet Nguyen, is leading the project to offer free period supplies.

"There's been a lot of conversation about why pads and tampons are a necessity, not a luxury, but not a lot of action," Nguyen told Newsweek. "We wanted to take it into our own hands. Low-income students struggle with having the necessary funding for food, let alone tampons."

Nguyen added that stocking the men's rooms is important to show solidarity with women who identify as men and feel more comfortable using the men's room. Regardless of a woman's gender identity, periods are still a reality. This move acknowledges that in a very real way.

The program will run throughout the school year and Nguyen hopes it convinces the school administration to continue to provide free tampons and pads.

More from CafeMom: 18 Absurdly Offensive Postcards About Women That We'd Never Let Fly Today

But it's not just Ivy League college kids who are getting the benefit of widely available hygiene necessities. New York City public school bathrooms also offer tampons and pads, and the trend is starting to spread across the country.

It makes sense. Young girls don't have jobs or access to cars to run down to the drug store to pick up tampons or pads when their periods start. Some are totally caught off guard without an emergency stash. This is something we can easily and cheaply provide our girls, so why wouldn't we?


Besides the fact that many kids simply do not have access to period staples, it's also something we can do to cut down our girls' level of anxiety about their changing bodies.

More from CafeMom: 6 Ways to Make Your Daughter’s First Period Less of a Pain

Remember when you were in school and started your period? Remember worrying about how to discreetly pull your purse out before getting up to get the bathroom pass -- a sure sign it was "that time of the month"?

Remember worrying about bleeding through your clothes or having a pad spill out of a locker? It seems silly now, but these things can be genuinely awful for teenage girls. Having a readily available supply of tampons and pads in the bathroom would eliminate a lot of period-related anxieties.

It's a no-brainer as far as this mom is concerned.

I'm thrilled my daughter will grow up in a world that doesn't ask her to pretend like she's not having a period, and instead just helps her meet her basic needs so she can get on with the rest of her life. Because that's really the point: helping girls handle their periods like the way of life it is without being burdened by it.

This is a simple way to change that for young women in schools and colleges.

Now, let's tackle equal pay, shall we?


Image via Ollinka/Shutterstock

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