September 18, 2016

Thousands of Students Support Referendum for Free Pads, Tampons

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A controversy over the availability of feminine sanitary products has swept Cornell’s campus in the form of Student Assembly referendum 30. The proposal’s query is simple — “should pads and tampons be available free of charge to students in all bathrooms on campus?”

Bridget Doolittle ’17 brought the measure to the S.A., representing Cornell’s Women’s Resource Center, according to Student Assembly President Jordan Berger ’17. The referendum was introduced a week after Brown University announced that it will supply tampons and sanitary products for free in every gender’s non-residential bathrooms on campus.

“Following the recent initiative at Brown, many people have been wondering, ‘Why doesn’t Cornell follow suit?’” said Matthew Indimine ’18, S.A. executive vice president.

There is “clear” support in favor of providing students on campus with free feminine hygiene products, according to Miranda Kasher ’17, S.A. Women’s Representative.

The referendum received the minimum required 1,500 of signatures — necessary for it to appear on the S.A. ballot — in less than seven hours, with many assembly members advertising the referendum on their Facebook cover photos and sharing the motion online. In total, the petition received 2,356 signatures, with 2,072 signatories verified as current undergraduates, Berger said.

“We are currently in an open comment period,” she said. “Every member of the Cornell community is permitted to submit statements. We have received 569 statements already.”

Like at Brown, the S.A. hopes to offer free tampons and pads in all women’s, men’s and gender-neutral/inclusive bathrooms, according to Kasher.

“The ultimate goal is to provide free feminine hygiene products to Cornell students and to be as inclusive as possible in doing so,” Kasher said.

This referendum is the first in approximately 10 years to receive enough signatures to appear on the S.A. elections ballot, according to Indimine.

“We are so excited to be able to directly engage all students in shared governance,” he said.

In a resolution passed during the 2015-2016 school year, the S.A. modified the referendum process, redefining a referendum to include the student body instead of just the S.A. and changing the number of signatures required for a petition.

These amendments aimed to improve the referendum process, particularly in polling students, and provide students with a simpler procedure for voicing their opinions to the administration, according to Brian Murphy ’16, a staff member at the Office of the Assemblies.

In order for a referendum to appear on the ballot, it must either be approved by S.A. and garner signatures from three percent of the undergraduate population, or must be signed by 10 percent of undergraduates, Murphy said.

When either of these conditions are met, the referendum will appear on the ballot for fall or spring elections, along with names of students running for offices. It is on this ballot that students can vote in support or against the referendum, according to Murphy.

Indimine said the referendum “merely serves as a way of establishing the need, or denouncing the need if it fails, for free tampons and pads in all bathrooms on campus.”

“If passed, this would be one step towards gender equity,” he said.

  • Guy Incognito

    So much waste,
    So much stolen/misused material,
    So many clogged toilets,
    Another feel good mandate with no thought put into it.

    • FreeTheTampon

      So you assume that if this mandate is passed and enacted, it will inevitably result in men aged 18 and up suddenly regressing to the maturity level of 10 year olds and flush all the pads and tampons in the bathrooms down the toilet? News flash, if someone really wanted to be funny and clog a toilet, they can do so with the toilet paper rolls Cornell stocks in every bathroom already.

      If you’re worried about women clogging toilets, there is literally a sign in every women’s/gender-neutral restroom saying not to flush hygiene products. I assume these signs will simply be added to men’s rooms.

      Yes, there will be an adjustment period, especially for men who aren’t used to seeing these products in their designated restrooms, but I don’t expect people to go wild with tampons any more than I expect with toilet paper. Imagine a world where restrooms didn’t stock toilet paper free of charge in every stall. If this mandate was about toilet paper, I’m sure you would support it because the obvious convenience and hygiene benefits outweigh the cost or potential for waste/vandalism.

      Clearly the students of Cornell want this. The goal to get this mandate on the ballot was reached in a matter of HOURS, even though the SA had a week to spread the word. Almost 20% of the total undergraduate class is in support of this, and that’s only of the students who heard about it before the deadline passed. Do you know how hard it is to get 2500 people (especially opinionated college kids) to agree on ANYTHING?

      This is just another guy mansplaining something he has no real knowledge in. Come back with concrete statistics on waste, stolen products, or clogged toilets in bathrooms that stock free feminine hygiene products, and I’ll happily have an educated discussion with you. Til then, take a seat.

      • w0w

        Calm down, Jordan Berger.

        Um… 20% signing the referendum doesn’t mean 20% of the undergraduate class supports this idea. It simply means that they think it is worthwhile to go to a vote. I and many rational people I know support the idea of free tampons in women’s rooms, so we signed the referendum, but I intend to vote no if they go forward with the ludicrous idea of putting them in men’s rooms.

        Sorry for the mansplaining!

      • Guy Incognito

        Is there a response I can give that wouldn’t be mansplaining?

        Way to gender shame BTW.

        • CU ’07

          In women’s bathrooms, sure. In men’s? This is nothing but the liberal radical fringe engaging in yet another laughable antic – pseudo-“inclusiveness” that feeds off of faux outrage. Outraged at the lack of pads and tampons in the men’s bathroom.

  • Arafat

    Let’s vote for Bernie so everything is free. That way we never have to work and everything will be given to us by the government. Right?

    Or is it more nuanced than this? Do some liberal elitist body in charge of deciding what is free and what isn’t? Could you someone explain the intricacies of this well thought out idea? LOL

  • Girl Incognito

    I don’t know whether it’s better if students signed the referendum without really thinking or if they DID think about it and thought this was worthwhile to support.

  • Realist

    Please seek mental help if you believe tampons should be in men’s rooms. This is so wasteful and idiotic. If you’re wondering why tuition is skyrocketing, it’s foolish initiatives like this.

    • Incognito Girl

      How is it wasteful? Tampons and pads don’t expire.

      • CU ’07

        It’s wasteful and idiotic to place them in the men’s bathroom.

  • Girl Incognito

    Because men don’t use tampons and pads…
    Transgender people can get tampons and pads in gender-neutral restrooms.

  • Brown is awful in every way

    To answer Matty Indimine’s question, as a general rule, Cornell should avoid following Brown in anything.

  • Why is my name necessary?

    How about we actually see if Brown’s initiative will actually WORK before we start head-diving into vogue initiatives?

  • James Madison

    I’m very upset about this new proposal to provide feminine hygiene products in men’s bathrooms. The sight of these products in what was until now a males-only “safe space” triggers me so that I feel very unsafe. Although these males-only bathrooms are divisive and deny menstruating male students the inclusivity desired by the overwhelming majority of Cornell students, has anyone given one single thought to the crushing disappointments that are borne by biologically-assigned males who are unable to participate in the monthly cycle of menstruation, or in the gestation of their own infants? As an already-marginalized victim of these unfair life realities, I wonder why must Cornell move so unconscionably to augment the daily slights and micro-aggressions that constantly reaffirm the second-class victimhood and dehumanization of those persons who happen to be anatomically male through nobody’s fault?

    It is time to say, “Enough!” It seems that kicking a male person while he is down is no longer an adequate humiliation; now Cornell seems to want to douse such a male person with gasoline and then throw a lit match to watch that male person burn. When will we open our eyes to this overt hatred and learn to love our fellow huperson?

  • Economics 101

    Why do we need to provide them for free? If it’s really such a burden to just bring your own (it’s definitely not) we could just keep the for pay dispensers. There was never anything stopping a transgender person from using them in the men’s room before. Maybe if we reduced tuition below insanity then everybody could make their own choices as to their optimal resource allocation and be able to afford basic necessities without struggling. Attempting to make everything “free” like this is fundamentally extremely cost inefficient and harms ALL parties.

    • Girl Incognito

      And it’s regressive. It provides free basic necessities to many people who could afford to pay for tampons and pads themselves.

      • Alum

        Agree-donate tampons and pads to women’s shelters in the area.. How fucking stupid

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  • Ridiculous

    “Following the recent initiative at Brown, many people have been wondering” blah blah..ABOUT TAMPONS IN MENS ROOMS?? Yes, with all of the work involved in keeping up with classes and clubs in college, I’m sure that’s what most students have been “wondering” about. I have not heard a single student bring it up until this article was put up, and even with that, it’s not considered something that’s necessary or worth wondering about. Students come to college with these “supplies” as they come with dental floss, hairspray, or toothpaste and when they run out, they get it from a roommate until they buy it themselves.( this is how it as has been done since forever) what’s next??free Yeast infection cream or men’s aftershave for all bathrooms?? Is this a case of who wants to be the most PC SCHOOL?- To a fault?? This is seriously dumb, a waste of money, and really serves no purpose. A transgender student will obtain a tampon or pad etc. the same way every other female student has on every college campus since women were first allowed to be on college campuses. Stop the nonsense and please allow our high tuitions to be put to better use. Beyond ridiculous.

  • Alum

    So for “gender equity” let’s supply Motrin for menstrual cramps, and powders or creams for jock itch FOR FREE in all bathrooms. Does anyone is the idiocy in this rationale? We have men’s bathrooms, female bathrooms and gender neutral bathrooms. a transgender student may use whichever he or she feels comfortable using. That’s pretty gender equal and comfortable for those students I think all would agree. But having to supply free “hygiene” supplies in all bathrooms is asinine and a case of which school could be the most PC.

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