Menstruation Frustration

Tampon Machines Woefully Understocked


Students who menstruate, last week I went to the restroom in the downstairs D hallway and found something that I’m sure most of you have noticed. Since at least 2011, the tampon machines have not been refilled once, according to Nurse Rita Chavez-Riley. In fact, at least two of the restrooms at this school have broken tampon machines that, when opened, are empty. Go figure. Many of the working tampon machines, however, are assumed broken because you don’t get anything in return for your quarter. What I’m trying to say is that they’re empty. They’re all empty.

“These machines should be filled, [tampons] are needed,” Chayce Wellings ‘19 said. “I don’t know personally, but it definitely is important.”

Being empty forever and always is not the only problem with these machines. For the most part, they aren’t even that old. Most of the tampon dispensers in the school were made by the Bradley Corporation and the copyright is from 2007 — however, the oldest tampon dispenser in the school is a Bobrick B-35024, which ceased production in 1993.

“It would be convenient for the machines to be filled,” Chemistry teacher Ms. Janice Frank said. “[However] I don’t see why they don’t just take the machines out.”

In the state of Texas high school TEKS, found on their website, any mention of tampons, pads, and menstruation seem to be absent.

“[Tampon safety] should be taught in sex ed, to boys too,” Ms. Chavez-Riley said. “Boys need to be just as aware of periods as women.”

While the general consensus among the teachers and students has been that tampons are too expensive for the school to buy for students, many of the trainers keep tampons for their athletes.  The only menstrual products in the school are diaper-like pads from the nurse’s office that no student wants to use unless they absolutely have to.

“It can be awkward for students to have to go to the nurse,” Ms. Frank said. “It seems odd if they’re not refilling them just because of a money issue.”

The state of the pads that are supplied isn’t the only problem either. Ms. Chavez-Riley said that when she opened the tampon machine in the nurse’s office, she found around five dollars worth of quarters in it.

“Students lose money in them,” Ms. Chavez-Riley said. “We can only supply pads, and that comes out of the nurse’s budget.”

Recently, the New York High School for Arts and Business in Corona, Queens began offering free tampons to all of its students who need them because the school believes that tampons should be provided for students as commonly as toilet paper is. The contrast between that high school and ours is apparent. The issues that come with this whole tampon machine debacle are apparent. I suppose I’ll just have to hope the school board will realize that the cleanliness of its students is not up for discussion and quell our monthly frustration.