Neglection of Make Me Free victory reinforces menstruation stigmas


Graphic by Nina Bowens '25

Despite “Make Me Free” winning the students’ majority vote last spring, Staples still lacks free tampons and pads in bathrooms, leading to girls often relying on each other in tight situations.

One of the worst possible situations is getting your period in the middle of gym class. Even worse, is not having access to the “supplies” to deal with it. 

Every girl has had a similar incident: it’s life or death and the nurse is much too far away. The options are slim but clear: ask around in an environment with people you don’t know all that well, where this natural occurrence is looked down upon, or take the risk and run to the nurse, where you get two “one size fits all” choices. Shamefully, most girls leave the bathroom glaring at the empty “50ȼ tampons” box, take the risky trip to the nurse and quietly slip a poorly made tampon up their sleeve. 

Last spring, amongst many other submissions, the Staples Feminists Club promoted “Make Me Free” — which would distribute free products in every bathroom throughout the school. This was widely supported, winning the school’s majority vote. But where are they now? 

Staples is not the only school lacking  femenine hygiene  support. Only five states require schools to supply their bathrooms with necessary products, and ¼ of menstruating students lack access to said products. This is not just an issue regarding embarrassment or hygiene, but education and mental health. Stigmas around menstruation are fed by educational authorities neglecting to support and aid girls.  

An NPR article interviewed Damaris Pereda, the national programs director of PERIOD, who did a study which found that 70% of students felt that their school environment made them feel self-conscious about their period. She also discussed the unseen impact of making the trip to the nurse. 

“While you can get a period product, you often have to walk across the campus while you’re still bleeding through,” Pereda said. “What happens in that case is that a lot of students feel ashamed and like they’ve lost some of their dignity.”

Providing tampons and pads is one of the first critical steps in normalizing menstruation in the Staples community. What is with our staff and students not being able to say the words “pads” and “tampons?” In every health class, nurse visit or discussion, the words are always “female hygiene products.” In this school, they feel like a crime or a curse word, something students shouldn’t dare say out loud. Girls feel even more neglected after “Make Me Free” won, but no authoritative concrete actions came from it. 

A visible effort needs to occur to help girls through stressful and painful periods, and to make them feel supported by their school. Making them feel not disgusted by themselves every month is not enough — there should be a sense of power and pride, but most of all, support. The students spoke their opinion last spring, and they’ve grown tired of waiting. It’s time to make tampons and pads easily accessible and free. Your move, Staples.