WALTHAM, Mass. — A student-run activism club at Brandeis University has installed a vending machine on campus that contains Plan B emergency contraception.
The Wellness Vending Machine is located in the Shapiro Campus Center and will be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to Plan B, the machine is also stocked with other health products, including condoms and menstrual supplies.
Plan B has been and continues to be available at the Brandeis Health Center, but only on weekdays between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women can take emergency contraceptive pills up to five days after unprotected sex, but the sooner the pills are taken, the better they will work.
“Without access to emergency contraception on nights and weekends, Brandeis students are left without the ability to access care on campus when they need it,” Brandeis Pro-Choice said in a statement. “This vending machine will remove this barrier to timely care by expanding access to the medication and allowing students more privacy in their health care.”
The club said the around-the-clock access to emergency contraception will also serve as an essential resource for survivors of sexual assault and be available to students of all gender identities.
The idea for the machine was spearheaded by Brandeis Pro-Choice, a student-run organization that promotes reproductive rights including safe and legal abortion, comprehensive sex education programs, adequate access to contraception, reproductive health care and more. The club’s goal is to organize and lead discussion and activism to fight for reproductive justice.
“Access to sexual and reproductive health care is essential to everyone’s health and well-being,” said Brandeis Pro-Choice President Susannah Miller. “This vending machine will help all Brandeis students access care when we need it.”
Brandeis Pro-Choice is a chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action, a national youth organizing program. The vending machine is funded by a Planned Parenthood Action Fund grant designed to support young activists to bring about sustainable change on their campuses and gain experience advocating for their communities.
Brandeis Pro-Choice began planning for the vending machine in the spring of 2017. The club then started working with university administrators the following fall to implement the program and install the machine.
“Students and staff have been working tirelessly to make this vending machine a reality,” said Miller. “We had such a large outpouring of support from the student body and I am so glad we can finally implement this resource for them.”
Miller graduates in just a couple of weeks, but hopes the machine has a lasting impact for students in years to come.
“I hope it will give students more agency over their sexual health and continue to help people for years to come,” said Miller.
Brandeis University sent Boston 25 News the following statement:
"Brandeis has supplied emergency contraception at its health center since it became available, and it is now an over-the-counter medication. We applaud our students' initiative in working to see that the vending machine will enable immediate access even when the health center is closed. The health center will continue to offer emergency contraception and other reproductive health services to Brandeis students."