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What Happened to the Tampon Machines?


At the beginning of the school year, RAHS students noticed a change to all of the female bathrooms: they had tampon dispensers, with products available free of charge. Students were excited, recognizing that this change meant no more whispering to their peers when they needed a tampon during class, no more finding a female teacher to ask, and no more leaving class to get products from the health office.

In July 2023, the Minnesota state legislature passed a bill to require menstrual products in all female bathrooms used by students in grades 4-12. According to school nurse Joan Tighe, “The state provided pads/tampons and machines for the restrooms,” meaning that the school just had to facilitate the refilling of the machines.

This policy had the potential to reduce the stigma around periods and to help students focus on school instead of wondering whether they would be able to get the products that they need.

The pads and tampons went fast, proving that the products were much needed. However, less than a month into the school year, the machines started going empty. As the dispensers across the school ran out, students became frustrated.

Junior Ginger Anderson was “super excited to see the machines in the bathrooms, so when [she] saw them going empty, [she] wondered why the school wasn’t refilling them.”

Nurse Joan added that the program also faced difficulties at RAMS, Roseville’s middle school. At RAMS, however, the failure was due to misuse of the products. The students were using the tampons and pads to clog toilets and sticking the pads up on the walls. RAMS found a way to circumvent this problem, using “pencil bags that can hold pads/tampons and be clipped to student binders,” according to nurse Joan.

There is no evidence of abuse of the products at RAHS, and there are also no new efforts to provide students with increased access.

RAHS nurse Kelly Feneis said that “the custodial staff is supposed to keep the machines filled/stocked.”

The school nurses (Joan and Kelly) were never consulted about the program, and school administrators knew nothing about the bill or why the machines were not being maintained. This lack of knowledge about the program is likely why the project has not been successful at RAHS.

This bill was a huge step to help people feel more comfortable at school and to reduce stress and stigma around menstruation, so it’s a shame to see the lack of follow-through at RAHS.

Nurse Kelly wants to ensure that all students know that they have access to pads and tampons in the health office.

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About the Contributor
Evelyn Sagor
Evelyn Sagor, Editor-in-Chief
I am a co-editor-in-chief and have been writing for The Ville for three years. I like writing about social issues and sports. I do track and field and powerlifting, and I am secretary to Student Council. I also work at a local coffee shop!

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