A period piece
When I first arrived at Oberlin last year, I was overwhelmed by the variety of resources available to students. An extra flight of stairs in Wilder, for example, brought me to the Sexual Information Center, where the variety of condoms arranged by size, color and flavor made me feel dizzy. Upon a visit to the Registrar’s office, nothing brightened up the occasion quite like that little jar of Jolly Ranchers kept on one of the desks, something I forgot about and was pleasantly surprised by every time. The clubs and organizations advertised by flyers tacked on top of each other on bulletin boards ranged from Contra Dancing to Pagan Awareness, often with meeting times overlapping and leaving me unable to decide between OCOW, OPIRG and OPAL. “What didn’t Oberlin have?” I thought.
The answer to this question dawned upon me unexpectedly this past weekend. I was at Mudd, hunched over my laptop in a study carrel in A-Level typing away, when suddenly a sharp, spasm-like pain began to throb in my stomach. “I must have eaten too much at dinner,” I thought, going on with my work, “because my period wouldn’t come this early.”
Apparently, it would, and it did. No problem, I’ll just go over to one of those handy and conveniently-placed dispensers for tampons and sanitary napkins they have in all the ladies’ rooms on campus. For just a few cents, I’ll be good to go.
Except the machines were empty. Furthermore, it appeared that there were coins lodged in the slots, making it impossible for me to retrieve a tampon or napkin even if there had been these contents in the machine. I walked up to the second floor, and the third floor for that matter, and I encountered the same problem.
Since this unfortunate event, which concluded with a bitter and uncomfortable walk back to my dorm for a sanitary napkin from my own collection, I have visited other ladies’ rooms around campus and have found the same defunct, or empty, tampon and napkin machines. On a few occasions, the machines gladly accepted my money but gave me nothing in return.
I told people I was going to write this editorial and they thought it was funny; furthermore, they thought I was joking. I am fully aware that there are more pressing matters in the world, and on this campus for that matter, than whether or not a girl can get a tampon or napkin when she has her period in the library on a Sunday evening. The list of things I should be worrying about is endless, in fact! What corrupt corporation is the College inadvertently supporting by selling its products to students, for example? What should we do about the impending Wal-Mart that could have a potentially harmful impact on Main Street Oberlin’s small businesses?
But I suppose the point I would really like to get across here is this: With all of the resources Oberlin has at students’ disposal, ranging from the promise of hybrid car rentals to the renting of invaluable artwork at five dollars a piece, to the beautiful new houses on Union Street to the shiny new iMacs in the computer labs, the least the College can do is to make life just a little bit easier for its female students. The coins lodged in many of the machines indicate that women like me have attempted to use them, expecting them to work, because why would they be there if they weren’t functional? I am surely not the first Oberlin woman to be caught off-guard by her unannounced menstrual cycle, where a tampon and sanitary napkin disposal would have come in quite handy. Seeing that this problem isn’t going away until the entire female population on this campus becomes pregnant or goes through menopause, why not shell out the big bucks and get us some rags? This is what I am proposing.
So in conclusion, I urge those who are responsible for making such decisions
as supplying the ladies’ rooms with sanitary napkins and tampons to do the
right thing! Don’t tell me you can’t afford it because you went over
your Jolly Rancher budget last year. This is an issue of health, comfort and a
female’s right not to bleed onto her underwear because of Oberlin
College’s poor restroom planning. I trust that the right people will read
this article and that, this time next month, an angry PMS-inspired editorial
will not be necessary.