Menstrual Equity and Awareness on College Campuses

By Julia Maher ’23
Staff Writer

Once as I was waiting in line for the restroom in Stein Hall, I saw a sticker on the tampon and pad dispenser that said in bold red letters, “Cura Personalis. Period.” I was confused by its meaning, so I decided to research the phrase. I found out that Holy Cross implemented a two-year pilot of the Cura Personalis. Period. Initiative during the fall semester of 2018. A committee of Holy Cross students, in collaboration with Facilities and the Office of Finance, decided to provide free menstrual products, like tampons and pads, in women’s and gender-inclusive restrooms among all of the academic buildings. 

In a previous article written by the Student Government Association (SGA) for The Spire, the students stated that, “We have titled the initiative Cura Personalis. Period. because as a Jesuit institution we are called to care for the entirety of each individual.” The article was published only in a print version, not online; therefore, the awareness of Cura Personalis. Period. was not spread as widely as possible, since many students prefer reading online. This is an especially relevant issue for students who cannot easily afford basic needs like menstrual products. If students in need are not aware of the free tampons and pads, then they will not have access to them; therefore, they may have to jeopardize other basic needs to afford menstrual products. Even in the United States, 64 percent of low-income women in a large US city could not afford to purchase tampons or pads during one year, and 21 percent said they experienced this issue every month (Reuters: “Even in the U.S., poor women often can’t afford tampons, pads,” 2019). It is crucial that Holy Cross raises awareness and visibility of free tampons and pads on campus so that its students can thrive.

Photo courtesy of hudabeauty.com

In the same article, SGA expressed a desire to distribute free tampons and pads in all of the women’s and gender-inclusive restrooms on campus, including those in the Hart Center at the Luth Athletic Complex and the residence halls. By the end of the initiative’s two-year pilot, the College should attempt to stock all of its restrooms, not only those in the academic buildings, with free menstrual products if the institution would truly like to affirm its Jesuit identity.

Several other institutions in the US have adopted initiatives like Cura Personalis. Period., including Georgetown University, Swarthmore College, the University of Washington, Boston University, Brown University, and many others. If certain colleges and universities have the money and resources, then they should provide free menstrual products. Tampons and pads are basic rights, and they should be stocked in restrooms, just like toilet paper, soap and water. Although some people view them as luxury items, they most certainly are not.

Finally, Holy Cross should increase awareness and visibility of Cura Personalis. Period. so that the entirety of its community, especially first-year students and those in need, knows of its existence. As a Jesuit institution, we should not be ashamed of a program that strengthens our spiritual identity and improves the wellness of our community; rather, we should celebrate it as a blessing.

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