Scenes from a sit-in at Vanderbilt. Suzy Weiss for The Free Press.
(Screengrabs via X)

Tale of a Tampon

Scenes from a sit-in at Vanderbilt.

Let me tell you about some Vanderbilt girl’s tampon.

It all started yesterday morning, when a wave of undergrad students rushed Kirkland Hall, where Vanderbilt’s chancellor’s office is located. Thus began their sit-in—a response to the college administration shutting down a student government vote over whether the school should divest funds from Israel. 

The protesters remained there for nearly 21.5 hours—blowing Harvard’s 12-hour “hunger strike,” also known as a good night’s sleep—out of the water, before police began removing and arresting students, some of whom have since been suspended. 

There are many dumbfounding moments from this latest campus frenzy—for example, when the students, arms linked, called the black police officers protecting the chancellor “puppets.” When the administrators brought in food from Panera Bread for the officers but not the students, it was treated like a human-rights abuse.

But the tampon takes the cake. (Major props to Steve McGuire for compiling the best episode of the internet since. . . yesterday.)

Here’s what went down: during one of those 21.5 hours of the protest, probably at an ungodly one, a few of the student demonstrators decided to call 911. That’s because their friend, who was part of the sit-in, had to change her tampon.

Specifically, she was “being denied the right to change her tampon that has been in for multiple hours, which leads to an increased risk of toxic shock syndrome.”

The frankly Zen-like 911 operator, who deserves a raise, was understandably confused. “Ma’am, do you have an emergency?” 

Um, yes?! The student on the phone requests urgent medical assistance. 

“You’re telling me your friend in Kirkland needs an ambulance. Is that what you’re telling me?” 

Then in another video, one of the protesters—in a keffiyeh and a mask—approaches the police and an administrator, who was indeed in a sweater vest, demanding to know WHAT. WILL. HAPPEN. to her friend, should she leave the sit-in to change the tampon in question. The adults calmly explain that she won’t be arrested if she leaves the building. But can they confirm that she will never be arrested, ever?! 

“She does not feel safe,” someone says off-screen, punctuating it with claps. 

This whole thing makes the Nick Christakis Halloween costume struggle session look like a teachable moment. It must be seen to be believed. Watch all the videos in Steve’s thread here

For starters, if having a tampon in for “multiple hours” is grounds to call for an ambulance, I should have been dead years ago. Second, this student was being denied no such right. All she had to do was get up, leave the protest, and find one of the hundreds of bathrooms that she had access to elsewhere on campus. Pro tip: wear a pad to the all-night protest. The First Amendment doesn’t come with a heating pad. 

It’s all very Karen, to borrow a trope from 2020, especially when a protester demands the administrator find someone who can get them some answers. Just like middle-aged women who think dressing down the manager will somehow earn them a full refund, these students have convinced themselves that by linking arms and screaming “shame” at their college’s chancellor, they are stopping a war in the Middle East.

Don’t these authority figures realize they are standing in the way of a global intifada, which is also—obviously—totally a good thing? 

We find out in a subsequent video that indeed the tampon was removed, though not in any bathroom. Reader, it came out at the sit-in, like so much urine in so many plastic water bottles. A woman on the microphone calls it “the most depraved shit I’ve seen in my entire life.” 

Hard agree. 

Suzy Weiss is a reporter at The Free Press. Follow her on X @SnoozyWeiss.