February 11, 2019
The University of New England is now providing students with access to free feminine hygiene products on its campuses. Thanks to a partnership between university administrators and a group of students, tampons are now available in dispensers in several non-residential UNE buildings in both Biddeford and Portland.
The student effort was led by Tarryn Nutt, an Animal Behavior major and Women and Gender Studies minor. Nutt views easy and free access to feminine hygiene products as a biological need that, when unmet, can have adverse effects on a student’s academic experience. “It’s important for me to be able to go to class and get an education,” she explained, noting that without the proper coins for the former coin-operated dispensers, female students often needed to leave class -- sometimes at critical moments -- to trek across campus to their dorm rooms to retrieve a tampon or pad.
Nutt brought her concerns to UNE’s Women and Gender Studies Club. With the support of the club, she then invited UNE President James Herbert to a meeting at which the students made a compelling presentation about the importance of access to sanitary products.
Herbert, impressed by the students’ arguments, took the idea to the senior leadership team, who created a budget to implement the free tampon program and found a local manufacturer of tampons.
“I commend Tarryn for identifying a need on campus and working collaboratively with a student club to make the administration aware of that need,” said Herbert. “And I’m grateful to the senior leadership team for working diligently to effect this positive change.”
Under the new initiative, women’s bathroom tampon dispensers, which were previously coin-operated, have been retro-fitted to eliminate the need for money. They are stocked with Tambrands tampons, made in Auburn, Maine.