Only five bathrooms on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus and two bathrooms on Water Tower Campus have free products for menstruating students — but recently, students have found the bathrooms to be understocked or ignored.
Even though Loyola took over the Students for Reproductive Justice (SRJ) program to distribute free pads and tampons in on-campus bathrooms in 2019, students across campus have complained of unfilled dispensers and unfilled promises.
Outside of the seven bathrooms Loyola is supposed to be stocking, students still have to pay a quarter to get a tampon or pad from the bathrooms on campuses even providing them.
This isn’t a gumball machine. People shouldn’t have to pay a quarter while they’re bleeding, and they shouldn’t have to worry if the container will be full when they do. How is that any different when you run to one of the seven bathrooms on campus with free products, only to see it’s empty?
Loyola reclaimed the initiative from SRJ and quickly fumbled the ball.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill in August requiring free menstrual products at homeless shelters, community colleges and public universities — but with Loyola being a private university, it’s been up to the students themselves to step up where the school has failed.
SRJ has been fighting for free period products in all bathrooms since 2017 — but why is the onus on us students?
A failure to properly stock these products isn’t just an unchecked box on a to-do list — it’s the difference between going to class, or running home to save a pair of pants. Having access to free period products is even more vital for students who struggle to afford them month to month.
Menstrual products aren’t just a luxury for the few who can afford them, it’s a necessary part of life.
In a survey commissioned by Thinx and PERIOD, one in five teens said they struggled to afford or find menstrual products, and four in five said they or someone they knew missed class because they couldn’t find products.
This burden puts students who menstruate at a disadvantage from their non-menstruating peers.
Loyola paid its housekeeping vendor $8,882,101 during the 2020 tax period for them to forget to stock the few bathrooms the university took responsibility for supplying products to.
Loyola Senior Associate Vice President for Facilities told The Phoenix the products are restocked everyday — but clearly there’s a disparity between supply and demand. It doesn’t matter how often you stock the bathrooms if the dispensers are empty when they’re needed.
This isn’t the first time issues have been raised regarding period products at Loyola. In 2019, when SRJ was stocking the bathrooms, a Loyola student posted a video throwing out a box of tampons — leading to some students accusing him of transphobia.
Period products aren’t controversial. They’re as necessary as toilet paper, which seems to be consistently stocked throughout Loyola’s bathrooms.
The university should have been providing these products a long time ago, and now that they’ve committed to doing the bare minimum of stocking just seven bathrooms with them, they should at least be able to fulfill that promise.