A map of Santa Clara County approved in March, stocking public toilets with free vintage goods led to a resurgence of activism among students and community leaders by calling on Stanford to do the same.
They argue that the University has a responsibility to subsidize the basic health needs of members of the Stanford community. But Stanford was hesitant 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 was responsible for funding and operating its own municipal services, meaning the county is not obligated to provide Stanford with free vintage goods in part of his plan.
While the county has no current plans to include the University in its cast, Santa Clara County Senior Planner Rob Eastwood said he would encourage Stanford to explore potential partnerships with the county in as part of this initiative. County officials are also urging the University to take leadership on the subject of menstrual equity.
“By providing free recurring products to every washroom in our county, we are modeling best practices,” wrote Santa Clara County supervisor Cindy Chavez, who proposed the plan, in a statement to the Daily. “Everyone should expect hygiene products in a public washroom, whether it is toilet paper, soap or menstrual products. We hope that other institutions will take note and follow our example. “
One in 10 students is likely to be affected by lack of access to menstrual products, according to one study from George Mason University. The same study reports higher rates of depression among these college students, who tend to be predominantly from communities of color and low-income communities.
“I think this is definitely an overlooked issue,” said Margot Bellon ’21, president of Stanford Planned Parenthood Generation Action. “I don’t think we fully realize the magnitude of the burden on the most socio-economically disadvantaged students.”
According to University spokesman EJ Miranda, Stanford is currently monitoring how the county’s plan will take effect and has yet to make any changes to the University’s policy on period products.
“We appreciate the county’s efforts to expand access to these products and understand that they are in the process of gathering details on how a plan might be implemented in public facilities in the county,” Miranda wrote. . “We can’t wait to see their final decision.”
Although the bill was passed in March, county council members were together to meet again this month to determine county needs and consider a budget proposal for the plan. Although it is not known whether this meeting has yet taken place, the law has been amended May 24 to encourage private higher education institutions to “store an adequate supply of menstrual products in no less than a designated and accessible central location on each campus.”
Currently, 30 states load a “tampon tax”, which means that menstrual products are classified as luxury items and not exempt from tax. Menstrual products in California are exempt luxury tax until January 2022. The average person with their period will likely spend $ 6,000 on menstrual products over their lifetime, according to a study commissioned by period products company Intimina.
Stanford wouldn’t be the first Santa Clara Sub-County entity to lead its own period products initiative – in 2019, the city of Mountain View started a pilot program after local advocates petitioned city council. Mountain View plans to move forward with providing free period merchandise in city public buildings this year, and other cities, including Menlo Park, are considering doing the same, according to Tim Mackenzie Ph. D. ’19, postdoctoral researcher at the School of Medicine.
Mackenzie, who lives in Mountain View, was one of dominant voice lobby for menstrual equity in Santa Clara County. Now, as the advocacy coordinator for the Stanford University Postdoctoral Association (SURPAS), he’s trying to do the same at Stanford.
“Given Stanford’s vast resources and position in the world, we believe we should be leaders rather than followers when it comes to this topic,” Mackenzie said. “Providing vintage products is inexpensive. Imagine if all the public toilets you walk into have period products. It seems obvious, but it does not exist everywhere. “
SURPAS recently spent a resolution urging the University to follow the county’s lead.
But this problem does not only concern the Stanford academic community. Paul Regaldo, president of the 2007 Local of the International Union of Service Employees (SEIU), which represents higher education workers at Stanford, SLAC and Santa Clara University, said the union is is committed to supporting SURPAS ‘efforts to make the resolution a reality. at Stanford.
“We are ready to work with the University on this important topic because it affects everyone,” said Regaldo. “Stanford University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and with that title comes responsibility. I think it’s a responsibility that the University recognizes, and once they hear from all of us, I hope they embrace it.
Regaldo added that if students take action or organize protests, the Union would be more than willing to participate as a sign of solidarity.