Anna Gragert
February 19, 2016 2:21 pm
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Though colleges may provide helpful services, information, and even health-related products (i.e. condoms) to their students, there’s a specific item they do not give out for free: tampons. And one student is justifiably not okay with this exclusion.

According to Couillard, Columbia College Student Council president Ben Makansi recently stated that he would discuss the provision of free tampons with Scott Wright, Vice President of Campus Services. Another campus organization, the Engineering Student Council, is passionate about this issue and will also be speaking to Wright about free tampon distribution. The takeaway: students strongly feel that an important discussion about female hygiene must be had.

Overall, Courtney wonders why her university isn’t supporting people who menstruate (Barnard, which is affiliated with Columbia University, is a women’s college). Yet, while this specific issue may be on the college level, it represents part of a bigger picture: tampon tax.

Feminine sanitary products like pads and tampons are taxed as “luxury goods” – even though having your period is anything but a luxury. In total, 40 states impose this tax upon its female residents. Couillard adds, referring specifically to her free tampon initiative,

Earlier this year, California assemblywomen Cristina Garcia and Ling Ling Chang introduced a bill that will categorize feminine hygiene products as medical necessities. “Basically, we are being taxed for being women,” stated Garcia. “This is a step in the right direction to fix this gender injustice. Women have no choice but to buy these products, so the economic effect is only felt by woman [sic] and women of color are particularly hard hit by this tax.” Garcia’s news release added that California women pay over $20 million, annually, in taxes on feminine hygiene products, spending an average of $7 per month for 40 years.

That’s exactly why Couillard aspires to help her fellow students maintain their hygiene in an affordable, manageable fashion. After adding that male students should stand with their female peers in the name of hygiene and health, Courtney concludes,

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