The plan for Plan B: SAS approves funding for reproductive healthcare vending machine

A vending machine row offering contraceptives reading AZO and VCF.
The implementation of a wellness vending machine at Scripps plans to increase access to wellness products for students. (Emma Jensen • The Student Life)

Plan B may soon be accessible on Scripps College’s campus after Scripps Associated Students approved funding for a low-cost wellness vending machine in the Scripps Student Union last Sunday. SAS has yet to finalize the budget for the machine, SAS President Megan Chow SC ’23 told TSL in an email.

The wellness vending machine will sell Plan B, menstrual cups, pregnancy tests, lubrication and other wellness products, according to a flier included in SAS’s Monday newsletter to Scripps students.

To help make the project a reality, the Monday newsletter also announced a search for volunteers who could work “a few hours per week for the next few weeks.”

Julienne Ho SC ’23 and McKenna Blinman SC ’24 began the initiative to install such a machine during the 2021-2022 academic year, continuing their efforts this fall, according to Chow.

“The plan is to sell the products at a low cost and store the vending machine inside the Student Union because it’s an accessible, private, 24/7 space,” Chow said. “Especially after the overturn of Roe v. Wade, it’s become even more necessary and important to increase sexual and reproductive services on campus.”

In 2014, a wellness vending machine opened in Walker Lounge’s second floor Wellness Room at Pomona College. The Wellness Room’s vending machine carries Plan B One-Step, condoms and vibrators, as well as items related to general health.

A major benefit of Pomona’s vending machine is that it offers Plan B for $20, rather than the nearly $50 price tag at stores like Target. Student Health Services also offers Plan B at this discounted rate.

Chow said that the products from Scripps’ wellness machine would also be sold at a low cost.

To ensure the vending machine best serves students at the college, Ho and Blinman surveyed students to gauge which products they want most in the vending machine, she said.

“I feel super proud and appreciative of [Ho] and [Blinman] for all the love, care, time and effort they’ve poured into this project to support the student body and remove many of the barriers that students often face when trying to access sexual health services,” Chow said.

For now, the wellness machine will only be accessible to Scripps students, since the Student Union requires Scripps ID swipe access.

At Scripps, students can utilize the “Condom Canary,” which distributes up to one Condom Canary Kit per month to each student who requests one. Orchestrated by the Tiernan Field House’s Peer Health Educators, the service “sends safe sex supplies and health information right to Scripps’ students mailboxes,” according to the Field House’s website.

The service’s form notes that students can access sexual health and wellness items from the Field House’s Wellness Room, along with Health Education Outreach (HEO) and Student Health Services (SHS), both located at the Tranquada Center.

A vending machine offering three EContra One-Step.
(Emma Jensen • The Student Life)

Scripps students can also find free menstrual products in the Wellness Room, Seal Court bathroom and Scripps dorms, thanks to a SAS initiative from last year.

However, the Wellness Room requires a reservation to access. Additionally, students may prefer to access sexual health items on Scripps’ campus, or, in the case of pregnancy testing, to obtain supplies without engaging with an HEO or SHS staff member.

In the 2017-2018 academic year, student governments at Scripps and Harvey Mudd College suggested and planned wellness machines for their student bodies. The Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College also discussed a wellness vending machine in 2018.

Despite these discussions, however, Pomona’s vending machine remains the only option to access birth control options within or near the Claremont Colleges today, according to a rundown from the Inside Scripps website.

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