Students need 24-hour access to hygiene products

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Photo Credit: Eddie Gaspar

A period waits for no one. It doesn’t matter if you’re studying for a midterm at 3 a.m., going for a jog at seven in the evening or waking up at 2 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. When it happens, it happens, and you need a hygiene product immediately.

About half the student population requires menstrual products, yet these products are not easily accessible at different places and at various times of the day. The UT campus spans over 430 acres and only has three centralized places for students to purchase feminine hygiene products, presenting accessibility challenges for many students.

To eliminate accessibility issues, UT should have menstrual products available for purchase 24 hours a day at Residence Hall desks.

Students can buy menstrual products at Jester, Kinsolving and Cypress markets, but all these locations are only convenient for students close in proximity and are only open through certain hours. With 14 Residence Halls dispersed throughout campus, having 24-hour availability to feminine hygiene products at front desks would greatly benefit students and serve as a safe, convenient places to purchase basic sanitary items.

Ava Mouton-Johnston, a Plan II and business honors freshman who lives in Andrews Residence Hall, said leaving campus at odd hours for these necessary products is inconvenient and dangerous. Johnston said if she needs to get a hygiene product in the middle of the night, it’s not safe, and having only a few stores available with certain hours is not great.

Most on-campus markets open at 7 a.m. and close between 8 p.m. and 12 a.m. on Monday through Thursday, leaving several hours of the day when students have no on campus access to purchase menstrual products. On weekends these markets have even more restricted hours. Late at night or early in the morning, students still require access to hygiene products, and safety can become an issue if they travel outside of campus to get them when the markets are closed.

Aaron Voyles, director of Residence Hall operations at University Housing and Dining, said residence facilities prioritize student needs and continuously look for the next steps to improve their conditions.

“We would be happy to work with the University Residence Hall Association that represents the residents’ needs to determine what the need level is and how best to implement initiatives,” Voyles said regarding implementing 24-hour hygiene products at front desks.

The Orange Jackets, the oldest women’s service organization at UT, pushed for better access to feminine hygiene products in restrooms, and Kinsolving Residence Hall offered free hygiene products in community bathrooms for a time. Students can effect change and accomplish this goal.

All students have to do is voice their opinions and concerns to their respective Residence Hall Council representatives so that University Residence Hall Association and University Housing and Dining can better understand the issue and plan solutions.

Menstrual hygiene products are a necessity for UT students, and a period doesn’t wait for a convenient time of day or place. Accessibility must happen now everywhere across campus.

Mathavan is a business honors freshman from McAllen.