A Santa Clara County plan approved in March to supply recreational products to public toilets sparked a revival of activism among students and community leaders when it urged Stanford to do the same.
They contend that the university has a responsibility to subsidize the basic health needs of members of the Stanford community. However, Stanford was reluctant to make a final decision on the matter after the county’s announcement.
Since Stanford signed its land use agreement with Santa Clara County in 1985, the university has been responsible for funding and running its own community services, which means the county is under no obligation to provide Stanford with any spare time products under its plan put.
While the county currently has no plans to include the university in its distribution, Rob Eastwood, senior planner for the Santa Clara county, said he would encourage Stanford to look into possible partnerships with the county under the initiative. District elected officials also urge the university to take the lead on menstrual justice.
“We model best practices in providing recreational products in all of our county toilets,” Santa Clara county director Cindy Chavez, who proposed the plan, wrote in a statement to The Daily. “Everyone should expect toiletries in a public toilet, be it toilet paper, soap or historical products. We hope that other institutions will take notice and follow our example. “
According to a study by George Mason University, one in ten students is likely to be affected by a lack of access to menstrual products. The same study reports higher rates of depression among these students, who are usually mostly from color communities and low-income communities.
“I think it’s definitely an overlooked problem,” said Margot Bellon ’21, president of Stanford Planned Parenthood Generation Action. “I don’t think we fully understand the magnitude of the burden on socioeconomically disadvantaged college students.”
Stanford is currently overseeing how the county’s plan will go into effect, and has not yet made any changes to university policy on period products, according to university spokesman EJ Miranda.
“We applaud the county’s efforts to expand access to these products, and we believe that details are being gathered on how a plan can be implemented in county public facilities,” wrote Miranda. “We look forward to your final decision.”
Although the bill was passed in March, the district board members should meet again this month to identify the district’s needs and review a proposed budget for the plan. Although it is unclear whether this meeting has already taken place, the law was amended on May 24th to encourage private colleges to “store an adequate supply of menstrual products in no less than one designated and accessible central location on each campus”.
Currently, 30 states impose a “tampon tax,” which means that menstrual products are classified as luxury items and are not tax-free. Menstrual products in California will be exempt from luxury tax until January 2022. According to a study commissioned by period product company Intimina, the average person who menstruates is likely to spend $ 6,000 on period products in their lifetime.
Stanford wouldn’t be the first sub-county in Santa Clara to run its own product initiative. In 2019, the city of Mountain View launched a pilot program after local attorneys petitioned the city council. According to Tim Mackenzie Ph.D. Mountain View plans to offer free products in the city’s public buildings this year. Other cities, including Menlo Park, are also considering this. ’19, postdoctoral fellow at the School of Medicine.
Mackenzie, who lives in Mountain View, was one of the leading voices advocating fair menstruation in Santa Clara County. As the advocacy coordinator for the Stanford University Postdoctoral Association (SURPAS), he is now trying to do the same at Stanford.
“Given Stanford’s extensive resources and position in the world, we believe we should be leaders rather than supporters on this issue,” said Mackenzie. “Providing products from the time doesn’t cost a lot of money. Imagine every public bathroom you walk into has contemporary products. It seems like a no-brainer, but it doesn’t exist everywhere. “
SURPAS recently passed a resolution calling on the university to follow the example of the county.
However, this problem affects more than just the Stanford academic community. Paul Regaldo, president of the 2007 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local, which represents college staff at Stanford, SLAC and Santa Clara University, said the union is determined to support SURPAS ‘efforts to ensure the resolution becomes a reality is in Stanford.
“We are ready to work with the university on this important issue as it affects everyone,” said Regaldo. “Stanford University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and this title comes with responsibility. I think it is a responsibility that the university recognizes and when you hear from all of us I hope they take on it. “
Regaldo added that the Union would be more than willing to participate as a show of solidarity if students took action or organized demonstrations.