In its first two weeks of its rollout as the 5K Challenge winner, the Pads and Tampons Initiative has seen over half of those funds sapped, its dispenser baskets stolen, and nearly 10,000 tampons and pads—all of SA’s initial order plus an extra trip to the store—used, some, it’s believed, taken by the handful.
But Students’ Association (SA) Government officials behind the effort think people will get bored of taking tampons in bulk trips and stealing baskets. And they called the effort a success so far.
“I would say I’ve been happy with how it’s been going,” SA Vice President Lance Floto said. “I mean, people are using it, we’re filling a need that the campus needs, that was the goal of the program, and I think that as far as the 5K Challenge goes […] our long-term goal is to make this happen next semester as well, and into the future.”
Student Life Committee Chair Criswell Lavery, who told the Campus Times that “people are going to get bored of stealing tampons and throwing baskets in the trash,” said the fact that “the executive branch has been able to do it, and implement the 5K Challenge, […] is a success in and of itself.”
Last Monday, Chief of Staff Linda Shackles made a run to BJ’s and bought all the regular Tampax brand tampons in stock, to the tune of nearly $1,200.
As of April 10, $2,767, more than 55 percent of funds, had been used. And $2,600—over 93% of that—have gone toward pads and tampons alone.
“Baskets were installed [April 2] around 4:30 [p.m.] to be filled Monday morning,” Floto said, referring to Wilson Commons. One basket disappeared that first day.
Four baskets are missing overall, Floto said, with one recovered, and the basket in the first floor men’s room of Wilson Commons has gone missing twice times. But eventually, he thinks, the thieves will give up.
“It can’t be that important to them,” he said.
Shackles, joking about the subject, added: “And in terms of stocking, once their backpacks are full of tampons they can’t take any more.”
According to the official SA record of supplies used, approximately 5,800 pads and tampons were used in the first week of implementation.
“People Need Them”
Floto, Lavery, and Shackles initially said that the pads and tampons were used because “people need them.”
Soon after, however, Shackles expanded why so many tampons and pads have been used.
“I think it’s a series of things,” Shackles said. “The first is definitely the need. I’ve had people come up to me saying, ‘[…] I definitely used this when I was having an emergency.’ That was the goal of this initiative. However, there are also people who just take handfuls at a time, and that’s expected, given […] that the first week is very novel. People would just restock their own tampon supplies with this.”
Lavery agreed, justifying the number used with the student population on campus.
“I feel like it’s surprising if you don’t need it,” Lavery said. “To me, it’s not surprising that that many are used considering the population in the school who menstruates. You need them, sometimes, and it just happens.”
A Tampon is a Tampon
Floto said he and the others “do not expect to go beyond the $5,000 budget.”
“We’re projecting that it’s not going to be a linear function as far as usage,” he said. “We’ll project that it will tail off after these first couple of weeks.”
SA officials were unsure what the long-term average weekly cost would be.
“Honestly, I can’t make a prediction on that,” Floto said. “All we have right now is the first week of numbers. For the second week, we gave Facilities slightly more than we did the first week to make sure they didn’t run out.”
Floto went on the point out that Goergen and Hutchinson Hall, on the Hajim Quad, were not given additional supplies due to low usage of pads and tampons.
He and Lavery said they don’t have enough data and “don’t feel comfortable making any kind of prediction.”
Floto and Lavery said that they do not anticipate that an expansion of the initiative to other locations would result in a similar pattern of supplies being used up breathlessly and baskets being stolen.
“I think the novelty of the program, you know, stocking up on supplies, expanding to other bathrooms wouldn’t restart that cycle,” Floto said. “They’re already going to have their tampons, so a tampon from Lattimore is no different than a tampon from Rush Rhees.”
Floto also predicted that usage would be nearly identical if expansion were to occur, citing close proximity between most buildings on campus.
Floto, Shackles, and Lavery expressed plans to discuss permanency of the initiative with both Facilities and Services and Dean of the College Richard Feldman.
No date had been set for any meetings as of press time, according to Floto, so SA has enough time to gather data to strengthen its pitch. Floto has since told the Campus Times that there is a meeting scheduled with Facilities and that the group is working to speak with Dean Feldman.
The Pads and Tampons Initiative was selected by students to receive $5,000 from SA in January. The initiative, which received over 60% of the votes, initially raised questions relating to the process of selecting finalists and advertising proposals.
SA rolled out the initiative just over two months after the win—on April 3—placing baskets with pads and tampons in over 30 bathrooms across six frequently-visited buildings on campus.
“We plan on using the remaining $5K funds to stock up on supplies for the rest of the semester, as well as the next academic year,” Shackles said. “I think the cost is going to go down, and actually will be within the $5,000 range.”
Correction and clarification (4/18/17): Due to reporting and writing errors, the original version of this article: claimed nearly 16,000 tampons and pads had been used in two weeks when only almost 10,000 have, and made that claim prior to the official second-week numbers being calculated; claimed an extra “order” was made, when it was rather a trip to a store; claimed that many people are believed to have taken tampons and pads by the handful when it is really suspected that only some people have done this; claimed the run to the store was an “emergency,” when it was anticipated; claimed the store run involved buying the store out of tampons and pads when in reality the store was only bought out of regular Tampax brand tampons; claimed that multiple baskets were stolen on the first day of implementation when only one had disappeared, that five baskets total had gone missing when it was only four with one recovered, and that the basket in the Wilson Commons men’s first floor bathroom had gone missing three times, not twice; portrayed a joke about thieves stuffing backpacks as a serious statement; speculatively reported that the second week total could be as many as 10,000 tampons and pads used, when 10,000 was just the number leftover at the start of the second week; claimed Floto and Lavery backtracked when it was unclear they had changed course; and reported that no meetings had been slated, which after press time had turned inaccurate.