WIN won't win on this one

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

March 6, 2008 Ed Cartoon

The Women’s Issues Network started a petition to ensure women have access to feminine hygiene products in washrooms on campus.

Currently, the sanitary product dispensers in women’s washrooms are not filled.

WIN feels the University Students’ Council should take on this responsibility.

The USC, however, said it is not a part of its budget or mandate and rather the university is responsible for the dispensers. WIN feels this represents the organization’s feelings on women’s issues and wellbeing.

The petition places clear responsibility on the USC stating, “Women all over our campus will no longer have access to sanitary feminine products in any washrooms of any building. The USC does not want to include this necessity in their budget.”

Is it really a necessity?

Most women at university have been menstruating for at least two to six years and thus are accustomed to preparing for it " i.e. carrying tampons and pads in their bags or asking a friend or acquaintance if caught without.

Moreover, if women are stuck, they can purchase the necessary products at the pharmacy or Mustang Alley.

In other words, most women come to school prepared and do not use the dispensers, which is what the university found out several years ago when it discontinued refilling dispensers.

It appears WIN is championing a non-issue. As a USC service, WIN’s duty is to champion women’s issues on campus, but part of that duty is to properly research issues " especially before circulating a petition.

WIN did not properly research this issue before starting this petition and, as a result, risks the service’s credibility.

The extreme language and molehill-to-mountain elevation of the issue in the petition could have the unintentional effect of perpetuating radical feminist stereotypes of WIN among women at Western.

Furthermore, WIN’s indictment of the USC is unnecessary and misinforms. It paints the USC as a misogynistic organization insensitive to women’s issues, which is simply not the case.

It should be noted the petition’s intent was surely not malicious. Rather, the poor research before circulating the petition is a regrettable mistake.

Particularly regrettable when there are many pressing women’s issues on campus worthy of WIN’s resources.

Undoubtedly WIN faces a difficult task attempting to represent all women and their concerns on campus. It should be commended for pursuing its mandate " crudely, to stir up support for women’s issues on campus " but it could better serve that mandate.

With its limited budget, WIN should prioritize its campaigns to focus on the most important women’s issues on campus. One that comes to mind is the continual lack of female candidates in USC presidential elections.

At the same time, WIN needs to hear women’s concerns to properly serve its mandate.

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