The Daily Iowan

Some hope UI copies Brown’s lead

Discussions arise about providing feminine-hygiene products in all restrooms at the UI after Brown University decides to do so.

Marissa Payne, [email protected]

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Following Brown University’s decision to supply all women’s, men’s, and gender-inclusive restrooms with free pads and tampons, some University of Iowa students are hoping to see a similar initiative implemented on campus.

The UI has a history of trying to make the campus more gender-inclusive. This past summer, The Daily Iowan reported on the university’s efforts to convert 147 single-user restrooms on campus into gender-neutral spaces.

Despite the university’s progress on issues of gender inclusiveness, Anj Droe, a transgender UI student, said the everyday struggles transgender students face can be overlooked.

“It’s weird trying to pass as male and then carrying around tampons in bags and having to go to bathrooms to change that,” he said. “For a long time, I struggled with feeling like my gender identity was valid while that was happening, because nobody really acknowledges that.”

While students are free to use bathrooms for the gender with which they identify, Droe typically only uses the gender-neutral restrooms. The men’s restrooms are not equipped with waste bins, Droe said, so even if he wanted to use those restrooms while menstruating, it wouldn’t work.

“The university has done a lot, and I really appreciate the gender-neutral bathrooms, because they feel very safe,” he said. “They don’t supply feminine-hygiene products in the bathrooms, but they do have waste bins.”

Feminist Union co-head Caitlyn Strack said she would support the initiative should one be implemented at the UI.

“I think it would be great for [transgender students], not just for awareness, but because … pads and tampons are very expensive, and that shouldn’t interfere with your attending class,” she said.

At the University of Northern Iowa, students would likely get behind such an initiative, said UNI Student Government President Hunter Flesch.

“It always comes down to a question of funding and university policy, but I think it’s something that students would like,” he said.

UI Student Government President Rachel Zuckerman said she thinks Brown’s idea is great, but she said there may be better ways to implement a similar initiative besides providing feminine-hygiene products for free throughout campus restrooms.

“I think that’s a blanket strategy that doesn’t address the true need,” she said. “The average student at the University of Iowa does not need access to free feminine-hygiene supplies. Ultimately, if we were to offer free products, nothing is actually free. It is something that would have to be offered somehow with university expenses.”

A better strategy, Zuckerman said, would be ensuring the food pantry is always stocked with feminine-hygiene products.

“Something that is highly under-donated is tampons and pads, because it’s still kind of a taboo topic in our society,” she said.

Although implementing the same initiative as Brown University’s at the UI might not be financially feasible —especially considering the recent tuition hikes, as Zuckerman noted — Strack said she appreciates the conversation started by the initiative.

“Any movement to make it more visible and acceptable helps to demystify periods and remove the stigma,” she said.

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About the Writer
Marissa Payne, Managing Editor


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @marissa42_

Marissa Payne is the Managing Editor of The Daily Iowan. She started working at the DI her...

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