By Gabriela Flores
Across Brooklyn College, 73 menstruation product dispensers were installed in women’s and all-gender bathrooms last November, with four more dispensers coming soon. As of press time, there are no sanitary napkins or tampons in the dispensers while the college continues discussing the details of their funding.
“I’m just really hoping that these dispensers work out in the best way possible. I think that these products are the bare minimum. There’s always more you could do,” said Carrie Ebbin, the vice president of BC’s Undergraduate Student Government, who initially advocated for increasing access to menstrual hygiene products on campus. The dispensers, however, were independently installed by the college’s personnel. The Vanguard could not confirm before press time if the dispensers were supplied by CUNY as a university-wide initiative.
Before the installments, the Women’s Center and Health Clinic were the only two sources of free menstrual products on campus. Joining forces with the two centers, Ebbin and other USG members planned how to expand access to menstrual products, especially for those who needed them off campus, in emergencies, or in other circumstances.
“To me, a lot of being in this position is kind of looking for what people need, finding a problem, and then just finding a way to fix it. I think that this is something that can help so many people, including myself,” said Ebbin, who will continue her advocacy by ensuring the eventually supplied products are regularly replenished, and contain ingredients that are safe for use and sustainable.
“I’m really excited to see how this project pans out in the end, and I’m excited and hopeful to continue to be part of the conversation and keep it going,” said Ebbin.
Since 2018, New York State requires all public schools serving grades six through 12 to provide free hygiene products in school restrooms. Jumaane Williams, NYC’s public advocate and a BC alum, introduced a bill to the City Council proposing that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene provide CUNY students with free menstrual hygiene products across the university’s campuses. The bill remains filed and has not yet passed.
The Vanguard will report updates on the dispensers and their supply of menstrual products as they become available.