By Isabelle Link
After two years, Amarillo College employees and students say they are celebrating a victory for women. The college has taken a step forward in meeting the needs of female students by piloting a program to supply free feminine hygiene products in the women’s bathrooms after complaints arose over dispensers marked permanently out of order.
“I’m grateful and proud of the folks in administrative that decided that this was good to do,” Sadie Newsome, the digital communications manager, said.
According to Jim Baca, the director of the physical plant, two years ago, college officials installed permanent plastic signs marking the dispensers “Out-of-Order” to avoid constantly repairing them.
“For six years we have been replacing and fixing the doors to the dispensers because people kept tampering or breaking them to get the change out, so we put more work into it then we were getting out of it,” Baca said.
Students and employees said they were angry about the dysfunctional dispensers. “The school is not truly thinking of the female,” Shelby Phillips, a radiology major, said
Newsome said she felt that with all the resources the college offers students, the absence of free feminine hygiene products was an oversight.
“It isn’t logical to expect women to truck around campus with blood in their pants. In most cases the student will just go home and that is one less student we are helping to succeed,” Newsome said.
Kaitlyn Drake, a radiology major, agreed that the broken dispensers sent a message to women. “It’s not fair,” Drake said. “I didn’t ask to have a period. Some women aren’t always prepared and people in poverty can’t help themselves. It really makes no sense.”
While pads and tampons were unavailable on campus, the school still supplied free condoms in the College Union Building. “I feel they’re promoting sex and not the well-being of the female,” Vianna Hurte, a nursing major, said.
Statistically, 51 percent of all AC students are female, and out of the 51 percent, 11.4 percent will be on their period at any given time. Most women spend 65 days out of the year dealing with a period.
“A period without the proper supplies is seen as an obstacle for women,” Hilary Hulsey, the Panhandle PBS content manager, said “Yet we supply condoms, which is a choice to use them, while I can’t choose to have or not have my period. It flies in the face of what we stand for as a no-excuse college.”
When “The Ranger” brought the issue to Baca’s attention, he took prompt steps to address it. “I wasn’t aware it was an issue,” Baca said. “We will get on that immediately and hopefully have them stocked permanently, but at least for one year,” he said.
The day after “The Ranger” contacted Baca, baskets of products appeared in the bathrooms, fully stocked with free items. The out-of-order dispensing machines will be staying in the bathrooms, unused, until further notice.