|Sanitary pad vending machines disappear rapidly due to financial difficulties. Photo by Park Jae-won.|
In most universities including SNU, Ewha Womans University, Yonsei, and Korea University, the vending machines are run by the school’s cooperative association (Coop).
According to Yonsei, Ewha and SNU Coop, for the associations to take care of the vending machines, they have to purchase the sanitary pads and hire employees to regularly fill them up. Consequently, the labor fee and product cost are not being covered as students rarely use the machines. In Yonsei University, sanitary pad vending machines from 43 places on campus were removed this month, due to the loss faced from the maintenance cost and low usage. It was reported by Yonsei Coop, that the total maintenance fee for 43 machines per year was 9.6 million won when it was used only 3.7 times per month. Yonsei replaced the machines with a box in the bathrooms where students are given the responsibility to voluntarily fill them up whenever they use one, operating on a giveand-take system.
“After the new give-and-take system was implemented, we evaluated the students’ usage,” a Yonsei Coop facility manager said. “As expected, despite the change, students rarely used the free sanitary napkins provided.”
Additionally, in SNU, the Coop facility manager told Ewha Voice that SNU removed all the sanitary pad machines in the entire campus due to the same reasons regarding finances.
“Through research, we realized that majority of the students carry their own sanitary napkins around or purchase them from convenience stores,” SNU Coop facility manager said. “With that, we removed all machines and left the responsibility to the students.”
Despite sanitary napkins being a necessity for women’s universities, it was no exception to the disappearance of the vending machines in women’s universities. According to Ewha Coop, Ewha has 25 remaining machines within the entire campus. Furthermore, in the case of Sukmyung Womens University, the school’s Property Management Team operator stated that currently there are a total of 21 machines, which reduced compared to the previous years, due to the decrease in sales. “The vending machines should not be all removed,” said Lee Hyunji, a freshman in Department of Chemistry and Nanoscience. “It is true students rarely use them, but I think the machines should stay so that students are assured that there is backup for urgent situations.” The interviewee also called out on the school for not replacing the old machines on campus and suggested for a change to newer ones. “The sanitary pad vending machines are currently inactive as students prefer purchasing them from convenience stores,” an Ewha Coop operator said. “Due to the lack of usage, we are considering on removing them and replacing them with a box where students can voluntarily use them when urgent.”
Choi Ye-jin firstname.lastname@example.org