UC Davis is one of the first universities to offer vending machines that sell Plan B, the morning-after pill, on campus. Installed in early April, the vending machine offers a bounty of sexual wellness items, including condoms, tampons, lubricants, pregnancy tests, pain relievers and allergy pills.
The machine is the brain-child of 21-year-old Parteek Singh, a senior at the school who’s worked for nearly two years to have the machine installed on campus. “Most college students are sexually active… and these resources should be provided to them,” he says, believing the items offered by the “Wellness to Go” vending machines are basic resources for any student.
Currently, only four universities in the U.S. sell emergency contraceptives in vending machines. Most are offered at local pharmacies or student wellness centers, the latter of which are closed on weekends and after 5:30pm. In other words: the times students would need them most. Not only that but the vending machine sells the pill for just $30, a price considerably lower than most pharmacies.
Singh first pushed for the vending machine when friends of his shared similar stories about the troubles of procuring the morning-after pill from the town’s only 24-hour pharmacy, which would regularly sell out.
The university’s administration rejected Singh’s request for the machine, offering to sell emergency contraception at the school’s bookstore instead. But Singh wasn’t having it.
“Students already don’t feel comfortable buying it from pharmacies,” he said. “Can you imagine buying it from another student?”
The second time around, Singh’s suggestion to include other wellness items in the vending machine, like tampons and allergy pills, ultimately led to the machine’s approval.
“I really value the anonymity of having a vending machine,” Georgia Savage, a student at UC Davis told The Sacramento Bee. “Obviously, we have health services on our campus that students can go to. But, a lot of students like the judgment-free space and don’t have to feel the pressure of interacting with people. I think that increases accessibility.”
While selling condoms in vending machines is nothing new, UC Davis is one of the first to offer Plan B, which also offers students the comfort that comes with anonymity.
As a result of the positive feedback from both parents and students, Singh is currently in talks with other universities and nonprofits about installing Wellness to Go machines at their institutions. His aim is sky-high, telling outlets, “I want to see this on every college campus.“
We agree. Readily available contraception is good for everyone. A slip of a condom or a bad actor shouldn’t mean that you have to have a baby.