SAS Working To Install Plan B Vending Machine

Graphic by Elodie Arbogast

SAS has begun planning for the implementation of a wellness vending machine, according to the minutes from meetings throughout this and last semester. ASHMC is also working on a plan to install a wellness vending machine. The machine would likely be modeled on the one in Pomona College’s Walker Lounge, which sells the Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive pill, as well as other items.

A survey sent out by SAS at the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year asking whether or not Scripps College should have a wellness vending machine received 98.6 percent affirmative responses from about 42 percent of the overall student body. A wellness vending machine at Scripps’ campus would increase accessibility for students of Scripps, Pitzer College, and Harvey Mudd College, who are farther from the machine at Walker Lounge.

A Scripps student, who asked to remain anonymous, said a machine on Scripps’ campus would have improved her access to Plan B during first year.

“I needed Plan B my freshman year, and had to make two trips to the machine at Walker Lounge because I didn’t realize the price of the pill, and that the machine only took Claremont Cash. I had to go back to my room to fill up my card,” she told TSL. “I fully support a machine on Scripps’ campus; it would have made my experience getting Plan B a lot easier.”

SAS will be self-funding the project, SAS co-Treasurers Grace Wang SC ’19 and Romanshi Gupta SC ’19 wrote in an email to TSL. The money will come from reserves accumulated from unused funds in previous years, they wrote.

SAS minutes from Feb. 11 indicate that SAS may include discounted Plan B in the wellness vending machine, to be priced at $20, rather than its normal retail price of $35 to $60. Other potential products include laundry detergent, band-aids, and other wellness items, all of which were mentioned in the Oct. 1, 2017 minutes.

The Oct. 1 minutes cited residence halls and the student union as potential locations for installing the machine.

SAS initially attempted to source Plan B for the machine through Student Health Services, but SHS “could not provide the staff to support an additional machine with Plan B,” SAS President Kelly Peng SC ’18 wrote in an email to TSL.

“Our Plan B doesn’t necessarily have to come from SHS, though it would be more convenient,” Peng added.

According to The Claremont Colleges Vice President for Student Affairs Denise Hayes, SHS’s current lack of a director has prevented SHS from working with SAS on this project, but SHS is working to remedy its staff shortage.

Hayes emphasized, however, that Scripps has final approval on this project.

“Each college can make choices about purchasing a vending machine and installing health and wellness products,” Hayes wrote.

SAS also discussed with SHS the types of products that could be stocked in the machine, according to Gupta and Wang.

ASHMC’s Student Philanthropy Campaign is also currently raising money from students and alumni for a similar vending machine, which would be available to students from all 5Cs, according to emails from from the SPC committee.

It will carry items including Plan B, tide pods, deodorant, and soap, although Executive Board minutes from Feb. 11 indicate that ASHMC is having issues sourcing Plan B for the vending machines, possibly in part due to the SHS staff shortage.

Pomona’s wellness vending machine, which SAS minutes from Oct. 1 cite as similar to the proposed machine at Scripps, opened in 2014. It carries discounted Plan B, other forms of contraception, vibrators, and general health products like chapstick and Neosporin.

At the time, Pomona’s decision garnered some criticism from a vocal minority of students who worried that students would be more likely to take Plan B more often if it was available in a vending machine.

Pomona was one of the first schools in the nation to install a vending machine carrying Plan B, but other schools have since followed.

Stanford University installed a machine in 2017, which was directly inspired by Pomona’s machine, according to The New York Times. The University of California, Santa Barbara; the University of California, Davis; Boise State; and Dartmouth University have also installed machines.

This article was updated Feb. 25 to correct inaccuracies regarding funding and SHS’ involvement in this project stemming from errors in the minutes posted by SAS, which have been updated since initial publication of this article, and to correct a misinterpretation of a statement attributed to Gupta and Wang. Additional information about ASHMC’s project has also been added. TSL regrets these errors.
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