It came two days later than it was “supposed” to. Like many women, my period’s schedule has never been particularly predictable. Without birth control, mine would arrive weeks late or early, last many days longer than it should, and come with excruciating pain every day.
I’m lucky. I have access to birth control, and it works for me. Some women cannot afford the kind they need. Others are still looking for the kind that may actually help them. Sometimes, even when we have birth control and it does help, our period still hits us two days late with a wave of cramping pain that makes you want to sit at a computer and rant about it.
An hour ago, when I felt that wave, I went to the bathroom, sulked for a minute, then did what I had to do. I reached for a pad that I received from the Field and Fork Pantry on campus, where menstrual products are often offered for free, if available.
I was a freshman when we didn’t have the pantry. I remember sitting in the bathroom at the Hub and calming myself down from a panic attack because my period came early again. The P.O.D. Market was right around the corner, but first, I had to carefully wind up the thin toilet paper, hoping my makeshift diaper would prevent any bleed-throughs as I made the quick trip to purchase the cheapest product there. The package I bought came with only five pads. That would last me two days if I was lucky.
When these problems caused a late homework submission or a missed quiz, I fought with myself over whether I should drop the p-word to my male teacher who I barely knew in order to provide a legitimate excuse, or try to convince them that I somehow got sick again with no doctor’s note.
What’s a doctor’s note for a period emergency? My P.O.D. receipt?
The initiative started by Gators Matter, Period. provided me with immense hope for a university community which finally showed compassion and understanding for students who found themselves in similar situations. I knew the Field and Fork Pantry offered some products, but their supply is never guaranteed, and their allotted quota for students of three hygiene products per weekly visit is not enough for the average period. A guaranteed availability of menstrual products across campus would undeniably improve the educational experiences of all genders.
The SG Budget Committee’s unanimous vote against providing free menstrual products to students is outrageous, and its comments from its 20-minute deliberations are disgusting.
I should not have to justify how this helps men, too. The students who don’t use gyms are not consulted before planning new gyms. When it came to deciding which library or study center would be kept open for 24/7 access, no one sought to find the opinions of students who preferred studying at home.
Among the growing #MeToo and #TimesUp movements trying to bring women’s voices to the forefront of social action, UF is still holding back on decisions meant to help women over concerns for what men prefer. The Budget Committee members owe the Student Body an apology and a reconsideration of this necessity in order to adequately serve the majority of their constituents.
Megan Newsome is a 21-year-old UF graduate student studying astrophysics.