Women’s Bathrooms Now Offer Free Feminine Products


The new machines are easier to use and more convenient. A red light signals if a product has run out.

By Divitya Vakil, News Editor

Beginning January 2018, all Illinois public schools will be required to provide free tampons and pads for female students. Earlier in December, West began preparing for this change by installing new machines in the women’s bathrooms.

While the District is required to provide sanitary napkins for free, Assistant Principal of Operations Mark Rigby believes that it is the right thing to do for students.

“We have been getting ready the past two months for the institution of this new law, which, by the way, we all agree with. I think it’s a great idea,” Rigby said. “We have been putting the dispensers in and figuring out the best way to do this. Just like you all are getting used to having them we have to get used to making sure they’re full, the machines are working, and all of that. It’s the right thing to do, so that’s why the law was passed. ”

However, Rigby noted some problems that began to occur since the new machines have been installed.

“How do you keep people from taking ten at a time? We’ve found stacks of them on the floor because people keep pushing the buttons and then a bunch come out,” Rigby said. “We had one drain clogged  because someone flushed them down the toilet.”

Previously, students had to purchase pads and tampons with quarters on the old machines. They are now available with just a push of a button.

“I was super happy that they were there because sometimes I forget my women necessities. Because they were free, it made it more convenient since I never have change on me,” junior Sidra Khatoon said. “But in general, women’s feminine products are necessary for proper hygiene. Right now, it is impossible to afford and they need to be cheaper. State Law is definitely taking the right step forward but the luxury tax on tampons is annoying.”

Khatoon’s thoughts are echoed by a majority of her peers, who appreciate the efforts to help minimize issues, like forgetting products, that arise from menstruation.

“Women cannot control their menstruation,” junior Taral Talati said. “Charging people for pads and tampons is like charging someone to use the restroom. This helps so many girls on a daily basis since it is a necessity.”

“Girls need tampons and shouldn’t be charged for something that they have no control over,” junior Simon Shamoon said. “It’s a natural thing that girls go through and they shouldn’t be punished for being a girl.”

Feminism Club Sponsor Jody Weatherington was delighted to hear that the law was passed, as she had plans to take matters into her own hands.

“My first reaction was that it’s about time this law passed,” Weatherington said. “We don’t charge kids for toilet paper; tampons and pads are just as vital and should be treated in a like manner. Over the summer, Fem Club discussed putting baskets of free supplies in each of the bathrooms, but thankfully, the law beat us to it.”

West is one of the more fortunate schools regarding this law; other schools in lower-income areas may have more difficulty providing these products for free to students.

“It’s sad that as a nation that basic needs like pads and tampons are not free and available to everyone,” junior Maya Cayemitte said. “Niles West is one of the more fortunate schools that can afford things like this and not every other school in Illinois is in our monetary situation.”

Despite some problems, Rigby is confident that everything will be more smooth once the novelty of the machines wears off after winter break.

“I’m hoping that as time passes the novelty of the whole thing will wear off and people will stop doing that [wasting products], which is what I think will happen. I just don’t want to waste sanitary napkins and the money. It’s growing pains but I think it’ll be fine.”