Editorial: Cycle of abandonment

Prices given priority over students’ menstrual needs

By Editorial Board

In 2016, Michelle Obama said the measure of any society is how it treats its women and using that metric of success, it stands to reason that a college can use that same standard to measure how well it functions in a community.

Using the treatment of women on campus as a yardstick, Contra Costa College is still leaps and bounds away from adequately providing a hassle-free learning environment for more than half of its students.

According to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Management Information System, DataMart, more than 60 percent of the students enrolled at CCC during the 2019 spring semester were female.

That statistic begs the question, why aren’t feminine hygiene products available in any of the rest rooms on campus?

Students in need receive a false sense of security as some of the rest rooms are equipped with sanitary dispensers and receptacles for sanitary products, however, all the containers are inexplicably bare.

As a matter of fact, most rest rooms on campus do not even have sanitary dispensers in the first place.

There are higher than retail-average priced products available in the Bookstore and services like SparkPoint offer care packages, which include these items. However, it shouldn’t be a high school girl’s responsibility to choose between lunch or a pad.

Also, it stands to reason many students would choose to simply go home rather than trek across campus to talk to a stranger (generally a man) in the SparkPoint Office about their impending cycle.

A fact that’s often forgotten is the Contra Costa College campus houses two high schools, Gateway to College and Middle College High School.

Roughly two years ago, in October 2017, California Assembly member Cristina Garcia (D-Los Angeles) sponsored legislation to make life more normal and equitable for women — particularly those from marginalized communities.

The bill, AB10, says a public school maintaining any combination of classes from grade 6 to grade 12 that meets a 40 percent pupil poverty threshold, should stock 50 percent of the school’s rest rooms with feminine hygiene products.

The bill also prohibits a public school from charging for any menstrual products, including feminine hygiene products, provided to pupils.

Sure, the measure of students in poverty on a given campus is a difficult metric to determine, but it shouldn’t take legislation to urge administrators to doing the right thing.

The Western Center on Law and Poverty says women’s access, or lack thereof, to menstrual products is an issue many people don’t think about. But it’s one that deeply impacts women — especially women who are poor.

AB10 was crafted because the emotional stress of coping without these products has negative effects on academic performance. Around the country, many schools have already begun offering sanitary products to students on the taxpayer’s dime.

In New York, where the cost of living rivals or exceeds the price of living in the Bay Area, residents are expected to pay about $29 per student annually.

That seems like a small price to pay to offer some level of educational equity to women on campus.