ACU should grant excused absences for menstruation since it is natural and can impact physical and mental well-being.
As a young woman who has navigated the challenging terrain of college life, I can testify to the often underestimated and embarrassing effects of menstruation on academic performance. My experiences, like those of countless others, have shown that menstrual leave is not a luxury but rather a step toward gender equity in education.
Now in my fourth year of college, I have become all too familiar with the dilemma of whether to talk about my period with professors. This particularly goes for the male ones. Even for the ones who are seen as gentle father figures, this topic is awkward and historically taboo. ResLife and the Human Resources Department of ACU confirmed that there are no policies in place for menstrual leave and claim that students must use their allotted absences for days of severe menstruation.
Because of this, I have often begrudgingly woken up for classes, only to find my clothing soaked through with blood. From that point, it becomes a monthly routine not unique to me but common to an entire gender.
Trying to get ready for school on time, cleaning clothes and sheets before stains settle in all while battling a hormone-induced rage of a mental state and abdominal pains rumored to be as painful as a heart attack. I can’t stop thinking about how many more absences I can afford, and how I have to make it to class.
These dreadful mornings are often ended by spilling hot, spiteful tears and defeatedly assuming the fetal position. My thoughts begin to shift as I fear that my professors will think I am inept or unmotivated. In reality, I am nursing myself in the most painful moments so that I can power through at my jobs and make rent for the month. I have spent approximately 1,134 days of my life living this experience and am just an average 21-year-old woman.
For those who prefer to not lie about their absence or complain to professors about their feminine plights, it seems there is no way to win, especially when this is life for up to two weeks out of the month.
For those like myself, attending class becomes an easy battle to lose, especially when the rest of the week is followed by homework for five classes and three demanding jobs that are crucial to making ends meet.
I get periods twice monthly, in which my blood flow is often so heavy that I can’t make it 30 minutes without changing my pad or tampon. If I waited longer, I would bleed through my pants. Constantly stressing out about this, while suffering through excruciating cramps, is a commonly experienced misfortune. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, menstrual irregularities like mine occur in an estimated 14% to 25% of women of childbearing age.
As a final blow toward the twice-monthly war that seems to occur in my body, a special email is sure to arrive in my inbox.
“This message is to inform you that you have been marked ABSENT,” the email says.
It seems to snicker at my weakness while I count once more how many absences I can afford before being withdrawn by my stricter professors. In these moments, I find myself super grateful for the rare professor who eases up on marking absences.
Students should not have to describe their gory struggles as I have just done. ACU should offer at least three days off monthly for the worst days of menstruation.
This isn’t that crazy of an idea. According to the American Bar Organization, Spain’s recent menstrual leave bill requiring three days of menstrual leave might inspire other countries. Those who accept this leave are available for compensation by the government.
“Looking forward, it is anticipated that other countries and/or jurisdictions will consider introducing statutory menstrual leave,” said Maya Alfaisal, the American Bar Association author.
“In fact, on February 14, 2023, the Congress of Mexico City approved to submit a menstrual leave related proposal to Mexico’s Federal Congress, which, if passed at the federal level, would concern all menstruating employees in Mexico,” Alfaisal said.
By creating menstrual leave policies, ACU can set an example for the rest of the country, and give us ladies something we’ve been needing for a long time.
Periods may be a punchline, but they’re also a part of life. It’s high time to say goodbye to the days of pretending we are just ‘sick’ once a month!