A student-sponsored referendum to provide free tampons and pads in all Cornell bathrooms has passed, with 78.6% of 3,034 voting students casting a ballot in favor.
The #FreetheTampon initiative aims to provide all bathrooms on campus of both genders–yes, men’s too–with free menstrual products throughout the year. Brown University has recently implemented a similar program. The reasoning behind stocking both men’s and women’s restrooms with feminine products is that not all people who menstruate are women, when accounting for the trans-gender population.
Pro and con statements relating to the initiative are posted on the Cornell Assemblies Elections page. Many of those who voted “yes” made claims along the lines of, “this is a basic human right, like water or shelter,” and that it’s “ridiculous” and “insane” that they aren’t free already. Many noted that condoms are freely available at the campus health center so tampons should be, too.
Those who voted against #FreetheTampon expressed concern over the potential financial burden the project would create and lack of planning as well as the likely waste of the products, especially in the men’s bathroom, considering that likely less than a percent of the population is trans-gender. Some students even noted that they would be in support of supplying the women’s rooms with tampons, but not the men’s.
“In any situation in which a discussion is being had about a given institution providing some good or service for free,” writes one student, “it is essential to first be able to estimate the cost of such a provision prior to implementing it.” Another student noted that “[i]t seems expensive, and unnecessary.” Another chimed in that “[h]aving the school subsidize more products leads to an increasing cost for students to attend…where does the subsidizing stop? The school shouldn’t provide other services that aren’t directly relevant or necessary for education.”
The issue will be presented to the president of the university for potential implementation, though any details that will be brought to the administration are still unclear.