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USG to partner with city council member in event focusing on free tampons, pads on Ohio State campus

Currently, pads are the only form of feminine hygiene products located in some Ohio State restrooms. Credit: Ris Twigg | Assistant Photo Editor

Columbus City Council member Elizabeth Brown will speak at an Undergraduate Student Government event on Ohio State’s campus Thursday in support of free access to tampons and pads in Columbus and on campus.

“Access, Period.” is an informative event focusing on women’s healthcare brought forth by the USG government relations committee. The talk will be in two parts — lecture and then a Q&A — that will each focus on the problem of access to menstrual products.

Brown said the issue had not crossed her mind until Nancy Kramer, a friend who started a tampon-focused nonprofit called Free the Tampon, explained to her that tampons, pads and other female hygiene products are generally not readily available in public places. On the other hand, toilet paper is always free and accessible.

“It was like a lightbulb going off in my head,” Brown said.

As a response to her revelation, Brown — who is the event’s only speaker — introduced a pilot program in February 2017 that made tampons and pads free and accessible in all Columbus recreation centers and homeless shelters.

When we as a city are looking at where we cut costs in our budget, do we ever take a red pen to our toilet paper budget? – City Council member Elizabeth Brown

Brown said the program will be the focus of her talk.

The event was organized by Abi McGowan, a second-year in political science and international relations, and Julia Dennen, a second-year in public management, leadership and policy.

McGowan said its purpose was not only to propose ways Ohio State can create similar programs as Brown’s, but to inform students about the stigma surrounding tampons and pads.

Brown said the public doesn’t talk enough about menstrual products because of the uncomfortable nature that comes with the subject.

It isn’t a one-gender issue, McGowan said, adding men can be included in the dialogue to make it less stigmatized.

“Although we want [the event] to speak to women’s issues, we don’t want it to feel like it’s exclusively for women,” McGowan said. “Hopefully for the people who don’t know much about it, they can learn more about an issue that is very pertinent to women.”

Feminine products like tampons and pads play a major role in women’s lives, McGowan said.

“It affects half of the population and it also negatively affects the homeless, so we feel like there are a lot of different ways [to combat it] and it’s an issue that is sort of still seen as taboo.

“We wanted to make sure that a good conversation was being put out there.”

Sophie Chang, USG vice president and a fourth-year in environment, economy, development and sustainability, said a plan to provide free menstrual products on campus is already in talks.

Chang said Ohio State’s version of the program would place free tampons and pads in the Ohio Union and the RPAC.

“I’ve gotten the chance to speak with council member Brown about both the event and our initiative on campus and gather her insights about it,” Chang said. “We are excited for our pilot that will hopefully roll out next spring.”

However, providing free tampons and pads is not an easy feat in Columbus or at Ohio State.

The first hurdle that’s in the way of Ohio State’s program is the financial cost to the university.

Dennen said some people might think it isn’t a burden for individuals to pay for menstrual products, but she added the program is made specifically for people that can’t afford these items, especially those in poverty.

Though Brown said the opposition believes it will financially strain governments or institutions, she said the real problem is the negative cultural undertone periods have, even though it is a natural process.

“People say [the issue is] financial, when it’s cultural,” Brown said. “When we as a city are looking at where we cut costs in our budget, do we ever take a red pen to our toilet paper budget?

“I believe that the claims that there is a financial hindrance is based under this cultural hindrance.”

Brown also said one year’s worth of products in Columbus recreation centers only cost a “few thousand [dollars]” in comparison to a $389 million city budget.

Chang’s similar program, in conjunction with the Office of Student Life and the USG health & safety committee, is set to start in Spring Semester, but Brown said she hopes that her talk will push other students to help with the initiative and advocate for the cause.

“I think [students] should contact their leaders in USG who’s spearheading this and let them know you’re willing to help because it does take advocacy to innovate and to move forward,” Brown said. “I think that the administration could be really open to hearing voices on this issue.”

Access, Period. will be held in the Round Reading Room on the third floor of the Ohio Union Thursday at 5 p.m.

10 comments

  1. OMG! Where would I begin? Maybe you should also provide attendants to wipe their butts! Why don’t you look to Planned Parenthood with their big bucks to provide feminine hygiene items instead of spending their money killing babies!!!!!

  2. CrunchyCollegeGirl

    It’s 2017, why are we trying to pass out more damaging products. Most disposable pads and tampons cause damage to the female body as well as the environment. Pass out 1 menstrual cup and a woman who can’t afford tampons will have 3, 5, and maybe even 10 years worth out of that 1 menstrual cup.

    These products are not readily available in public places for free because women, even those who can afford to buy their own, will load their purses up with them.

    This has nothing to do with PP and I don’t know why this nut job brought PP up besides to whine about everyone else’s business. Hey Ruth, how many children have you adopted?? What are you doing for the increasing numbers of children right here in America going to bed hungry?? Be productive rather than sit behind a computer and whine.

  3. This is not “Chang’s program” – give credit where it’s due

    The research, data, and financial pilot program options set to roll out at OSU were not created by Chang. The hard work that has been put into this initiative was all done by another student, who is not even mentioned in this article. Chang has not contributed much to this project, should not speak on behalf of it, and should not take credit for it. This is such a great initiative but if you are going to do it right at least credit those who have actually worked hard to make it happen.

    -Kenna, 3rd year

  4. This is actually a really cool event and program, but it is so sad that the person who put in all the work for it has been pushed out of the picture. It’s so hard for students to continue to put in the work to benefit campus when others are taking advantage of them for their own personal recognition

  5. I am close friends with Sunder Sai and he is the guy who should be credited with this initiative. I have seen him work his butt off to research and create those budget proposals forOSU’s pilot program. Not to mention call a bunch of companies for product quotes and meet with administrators. He was the one who originally met with Student Life.. not Sophie Chang! I literally cringed while reading “Chang’s similar program” …she did not do any of the work for it. She should not get credit.. it is not her program at all.

  6. The article says: “It isn’t a one-gender issue… adding men can be included in the dialogue to make it less stigmatized” However it appears that the male student who has actually worked hard to make this a real thing at osu is being screwed over and pushed out. This is not right. Chang should apologize and learn to not take credit for something that is very clearly not hers. That is not a good leader. This hurts the initiative
    -anonymous USG member

  7. This article is ridiculous. Ï know Sunder, and he clearly deserves all of the credit and I’m disheartened by USG’s treatment of him

    Personally, my belief is that Chang should step down and they should stop OPPRESSING their members. Ï know Sunder and he will not rest, no matter how little credit he gets. He does ït for the students, only for Sophie to put him in the corner in the dog house

    Shameful

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