Women in need of a pad or tampon won’t find them in the dispensers on campus. For the past four years, maintenance has not been refilling the dispensers in the bathrooms of academic and administrative buildings, according to Lori Moore, assistant manager of facility services at Kenyon. Now, the shortage of feminine hygiene products in public restrooms across campus is receiving heightened scrutiny.
Student Council discussed the lack of tampons in the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) during their meeting last Sunday. Over the past four weeks, in meetings with building managers, the student managers of the KAC have been calling on the College to refill the athletic center’s tampon dispensers.
“[Women] are so used to going up to random strangers and asking if they have a pad or a tampon … but at the KAC, [people ask] pretty often,” Emma Olson ’17, a student manager at the KAC, said. “Athletes will run by. We’ll have a couple who are visiting come in and ask. And, I mean, if you are visiting the school, it gets a little awkward.”
There was little effort to refill the dispensers until last week, according to the four managers. Now, after almost a month of meetings, Justin Newell, assistant athletic director and director of the KAC, informed them on Tuesday that the College ordered a new shipment of tampons for the women’s bathrooms in the KAC.
These aren’t the only feminine hygiene product dispensers on campus that lie empty.
Over the weekend, Collegian staffers checked the availability of feminine hygiene products in 18 academic and administrative buildings. Of the 21 dispensers the Collegian found, only two had accessible tampons; many bathrooms did not have dispensers at all. The other dispensers were either empty or did not function properly.
For the tampons in the two stocked dispensers, the Collegian attempted to date the Tampax and Playtex logos on the packaging using Logopedia. Both dispensers held tampons with logos indicating that they are least eight years old, and could be as many as 13 years old. Tampons have a five-year expiration date, according to Women’s Health Magazine, and could be hazardous if they accumulate bacteria or mold.
Many administrators were unclear on the extent of the issue with the tampon and pad dispensers. President Sean Decatur and Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman said they did not hear anything about the lack of tampons in the KAC until they saw the Student Council meeting minutes email.
Part of the reason it took so long to order tampons for the KAC, Newell said, is because he wasn’t sure who was responsible for replacing the products or maintaining the dispensers. “I had no understanding of the process,” Newell said. “Apparently the KAC ran out last year, and maintenance stopped filling them.”
Moore said this was an issue they would raise at their upcoming manager’s meeting with Steven Arnett, director of facility operations. Kohlman also said he would discuss this issue with Arnett in the coming weeks; the two met yesterday to discuss the problem, according to Cindy Burgett, administrative assistant to the director of facility operations. Arnett did not respond after multiple requests for comment.
Ramsey Brown ’18 hopes that having tampons in the KAC will lead the College to restock all the dispensers around campus. “There are these dispensers, [so] the school was providing the stuff at some point,” Brown said. “So then, when did it stop?”
Olson agrees, and hopes that everyone understands how important the availability of these products is for bodily health. “I would love for everybody on campus to understand this issue,” she said. “It’s critical to women’s health and it’s something that’s never talked about.”
Having empty dispensers, she said, is a disservice to people who menstruate. “Emergencies happen,” Olson said. “To have [empty dispensers] there is just like mocking.”