by Lucy Kuchma ‘18
With the emergence of Sherwood’s new feminist club, EmpowHer, students have begun discussing things they notice in school and home life that might disadvantage young women. A couple of club members called attention to the fact that girls who frequently visit the nurse’s office in need of feminine hygiene products are asked to pay a quarter The students were slightly frustrated by the fact that the school could not have an emergency supply that they could access whenever they needed it.
Both Farquhar and Rosa Parks have regularly maintained a supply of pads and tampons for students to access for free. Sherwood students, consequently, expect those resources to be available to them free of charge. But, as assistant nurse Norma Arzate explains, “Money for the tampons and pads comes out of the nurse’s office budget. To tell you the truth, there is just not enough.” When girls come in repeatedly and take as much as they please, the collection runs out too quickly, and there is not sufficient funding to purchase more.
Of course, it is utterly impractical for the school to have to meet 100 percent of need for every girl regarding feminine hygiene products, especially when some students come in five or six days in a row each month in need of one. There have been many times when the nurses have had to pay out-of-pocket for tampons and pads when they run out. They have been kind enough to provide for students, while reminding those students to be responsible about always carrying personal hygiene products in a backpack or purse.
Seeing as all of the funding for school departments comes from one giant discretionary fund Sherwood receives annually, it should not be too much to ask that there is enough funding to purchase feminine hygiene products to stock the nurse’s office. Additional money also can be directed towards things like buying snacks for students who are not fed enough at home. “It’s not like we can just go over to the cafeteria and get some food for these students. It just doesn’t work that way,” said head nurse Jennifer Jones. “So sometimes it is very tight, and we have to make tough decisions about how much of each necessity to buy.”
Practically speaking, the nurse’s office should not be forced to apportion funds that could go towards crackers and granola bars for pads and tampons, or be forced to buy them on their own. The school should allocate a greater sum of money to keep the room stocked for the school year in order to prevent these traumatic situations from happening to girls.
It is so unfortunate that the nurse’s office must, due to budget tightness, decide between
providing girls with necessary feminine hygiene products or purchasing snacks for students who don’t quite get what they need at home. It would truly help the nurses, female teachers, and young women of Sherwood if the school took steps to supply these products.