With a multitude of resources readily available to students across campus, one ASU student’s Reddit post pointed out the absence of an important resource in the female community: feminine hygiene products.
Jan. 10 was the first day back to school for Romina Fahl, a senior studying sociology with a minor in biology.
She said her day started off at 7 a.m., when she got herself and her toddler ready to leave their home in north Phoenix. With a class at noon, she parked her car in the usual spot a half hour from campus and took the light rail the rest of the way to school.
When she arrived to Tempe, she said she was surprised to get her period, which she hadn’t gotten since 2014.
“I discovered that I had my period for the first time since I had my son,” she said. “I was not expecting it."
She said was faced with a decision: go to class on time or find a place to get feminine hygiene products. She also said her car was too far away.
“I even had tampons in my car in case it happened, but I was going to miss a class and it was the first day, so you don’t want to be that student that doesn’t show up or leaves,” she said.
After sitting through her class, she said she went to the bathroom to buy the products she needed from the machines, but was left empty-handed.
“Of course I thought they had machines in all the bathrooms, and I went to my normal bathroom and put the quarter in for a tampon, and it ate the quarter,” she said. “Then I tried a pad and the quarter just got stuck.”
She said she tried about eight machines in different buildings after her class, but kept running into the same problems.
“I tried different bathrooms all along my path to class, but I didn’t go to the Memorial Union because it’s out of the way,” she said. “I just kept hoping the next bathroom would have it.”
She said she saw a similar pattern in the bathrooms with either broken machines or machines that were completely empty.
“You could tell because they were either open and empty, or broken and there wasn’t even a point of putting a quarter in because you knew there’s nothing there,” she said.
Fed up with the situation, she said she was advised to try Health Services, where she asked a worker if she could have a pad or a tampon for an emergency, but it was his response that made her angry.
“His exact words were ‘no, sorry, the only things we give away for free are Band-Aids and condoms,’” she said. “That made me really mad because sex is optional, but half of the population of the campus, and I’m sure a lot of professors, don’t choose when to have a period.”
The lack of availability in the bathrooms of ASU buildings and the absence of the products — even to purchase — at Health Services is what prompted her to write about her experience on Reddit.
“I love this campus and I never thought I would feel like that here, needing something very basic for females and not even being able to pay for it,” she said. “That’s what made me post it — knowing that condoms can be given out freely, but God-forbid one of the women here has an emergency.”
Regarding the issue of resources being available or not for students on campus, ASU Health Services responded with a statement from Dr. Aaron Krasnow, the associate vice president and director of ASU Health Services and Counseling Services.
"For any service not provided by ASU Health Services, we will connect students to community providers who meet the student’s medical needs that they can afford and near their home or campus," according to the statement. "ASU Health Services has a student advisory board that provides consultation and advice on the types of services ASU Health Services provides. Many types of services have evolved as a result of feedback and advice from this board.”
Regarding the availability of feminine products offered at Health Services, Krasnow stated the following in an emailed response.
"In terms of the feminine hygiene products, we don’t have any additional information to provide.”
Garner said when students have problems regarding health on campus, they can contact the committee with their concerns.
“In my opinion, it’s important to hear about the health concerns of the student, so we can address those,” she said.
Garner said she has never been a part of a discussion regarding products for woman on campus, but she encourages students to bring up such concerns to the committee.
“We have not, that I am aware, addressed specifically women and health services in a committee meeting in the time that I’ve been on the committee,” she said. “I would say bring that forth, that’s an important concept.”
Hunter Flanagan, a sophomore nursing student, said it’s really important for women to be able to access hygiene products, but the focus is currently elsewhere.
“Everyone thinks about safe sex, but maybe they need to stop focusing on the sex side and focus on more feminine health,” she said.
Flanagan said she was surprised by the fact that feminine hygiene products are not offered at health services, but condoms are.
“You would think they would make sure that women are healthy in general before they’re giving out products for sex,” Flanagan said.