’”Then again, maybe Stanford was right to be so worried.
Dartmouth, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Pomona College have all quietly added vending machines in recent years, driven by students who have tirelessly campaigned for them, surveying their fellow students, reading up on legislative hurdles, and interjecting the issue into every meeting with administrators. Whether or not each campus gets a machine, momentum is growing.“Every other week, I get an email from a student from a different campus looking to start their own project,” says Parteek Singh, a University of California, Davis graduate who spent his first summer out of college coaching would-be Plan B champions. Ultimately the story was covered everywhere from CNN to this website, and ever since the messages from other students haven’t stopped.
Today there are projects underway at as many as 30 campuses, from Washington state to Washington D. Last spring, the triumph of his student government career — UC Davis’ Plan B vending machine — went viral after he made his profile picture a photo of himself with the machine. Singh sets up conference calls after work (he just started at an investment firm in Sacramento) to walk students through his own complex process, and advise them on starting their own.
And since many of them don’t have cars, that means they have to wait until they can get a ride or put together the extra cash they’ll need to buy it at its non-subsidized price.
Even if they can easily leave campus, it’s still a toss-up whether students can get their hands on the drug.
When students return to Stanford University this month they will find a curious machine in their midst.
Nailed to the wall in the gender neutral bathroom in the Old Union building, it looks just like every other vending machine on campus. Instead, it sells My Way, a generic brand of emergency contraception, and male and female condoms.He’s presenting at a health conference later this fall, and he’s looking to partner with a non-profit which might be able to help him organize and amplify the cause further. “I want this resource on every college campus.”Although the “Plan B” vending machine might not seem as urgent as other campus causes (Title IX enforcement, desegregation, free speech) it’s hard not to see it as an important step in the greater war for stigma-free access to contraception.College-aged people are both famously sexually active and famously inexperienced, so they have a unique need for easy access to the so-called morning after pill.“They asked her a lot of probing questions and had treated her with a lot of disdain.And she felt the vending machine would have solved all of that.”Student advocates have so far found that like pharmacists, college administrators seem similarly unwilling or unable to accept the idea of unrestricted access.If revolutions were built on the tedious, small-step Leslie Knope-like perseverance of bureaucratic warriors, then the fight for Plan B would qualify as one of the greatest.