A group of students from Clemson University in South Carolina staged a protest this week in response to the removal of tampon dispensers from the men’s bathrooms.
On October 11, approximately 50 trans activists gathered on the campus grounds to condemn the University for having removed the tampon dispensers that had been installed in the Cooper Library male washroom. The dispensers were removed after the Clemson College Republicans first drew attention to their presence on social media.
“If you weren’t aware already, Clemson University has tampon/pad dispensers in the MEN’S restrooms located in Cooper Library. We truly live in a [clown] world,” the student group posted to X (formerly Twitter) on September 13.
The post was accompanied by a photo of one of the dispensers, which was offering free feminine hygiene products. The dispenser appears to have been designed by Aunt Flow, a menstruation product company focused on “social justice.” On its website, Aunt Flow boasts of having revised the language across all of its products and services in order to be more “gender inclusive.”
In reaction to the College Republicans’ post, some female social media users noted that similar dispensers in the women’s facilities were pay-per-use.
“I’m more curious as to why they’re all of a sudden free when they’ve been charging us for them in women’s restrooms for decades,” Angela Bartelt wrote, to which another user joked: “Just drop in a men’s bathroom and get them for free from now on.”
The post also attracted the attention of South Carolina District 6 Candidate April Cromer, who reached out to the President of Clemson University and worked to have the dispensers removed.
@NickyMccarter, and @ClemsonPrez was just as shocked as I was that these dispensers were in the men’s restroom. .@ClemsonPrez had these unauthorized dispensers removed ASAP! Thank you .@ClemsonCRs for bringing this to my attention.— April Cromer (@CromerForHouse) September 17, 2023
Males can’t be female, ever, period! #endtenure pic.twitter.com/2YWcwrwzPG
On Wednesday, student group Take Back Pride organized a demonstration in opposition to the removal, calling it “bigoted.”
Speaking to student paper The Tiger, Pan Tankersley, the main organizer of the event, said: “I’m angry at the experiences, at the bigotry that I’ve experienced at Clemson … Today, we are marching for the reinstatement of the menstrual products in the men’s restrooms in Cooper Library and throughout campus.”
On Take Back Pride’s Instagram account, it presented a list of demands to the University to right what they portrayed as an “injustice,” including calling on campus leaders to punish the Clemson College Republicans under the student code of conduct.
They claim the College Republicans are “contributing to a campus climate that encourages transphobic rhetoric and jeopardizes the safety of LGBTQIA+ students.”
As they marched across the campus, chants of “we’re here, we’re queer, we won’t disappear” were heard, and many students held signs and flags featuring LGBTQ and socialist iconography.
In response, Bailey Nye, a spokesperson for the College Republicans told The Tiger that it was “unfair that they’re taking that (free menstrual products) away from females.”
A Clemson spokesperson explained the college does not plan on reinstalling the machines at this time.