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How to bring emergency contraception vending machines to your college campus

In the spring of 2019, students from Boston University’s Students for Reproductive Freedom (SRF) Club participated in the annual Reproductive Justice Conference, now called Collective Power, held at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts Meeting. At the meeting, SRF students met members of a like-minded group from Brandeis University who told them about a surprisingly innovative project: They installed a vending machine on campus to dispense emergency contraception medicine


BU students were inspired to start “modeling the Brandeis project on BU’s campus,” Charlotte Beatty, SRF co-chair last year and a freshman at the time of the conference, tells SELF. For the next three years, BU students, including Beatty and her SRF co-chair Molly Baker, worked on implementing EC vending machines on campus. It was finally installed in March of this year, giving BU students reliable, convenient and anonymous access to a generic version of Plan B at a much lower cost than they could possibly pay at a pharmacy.

Today, student activists across the country — from Brandeis to Stanford — are spearheading projects to install these machines, which may, after Becomes more important than ever The overthrow of Roe v. Wade . If you’re eager to increase your access to reproductive health services, here’s how you can bring emergency contraception vending machines to your campus.

Make sure you have the support of campus officials and fellow students.

Before you start this program, it’s important to find out what’s available on your campus, Nicola Brogan, program manager for the American Association of Emergency Contraception, tells SELF. Brogan also oversees each of the organization’s Campus Emergency Contraception (EC4EC) programs, which help college students obtain EC vending machines on campus or establish other EC distribution programs.

“Vending machines are basically impossible if you don’t have government support,” Brogan said. In other words, logistical tasks like taking up campus space with EC machines, using empty slots in existing vending machines, and purchasing the medication itself all require help from campus powers (such as the dean, student health center manager, or facility director).

Campus officials may also want to know if EC machines are legal. Although some states require these vending machines to be licensed, only one state, Connecticut, has laws that specifically prohibit the dispensing of ECs from vending machines, according to EC4EC’s interstate regulatory guidelines.

It may also be helpful to conduct a survey on campus to see how many people will use vending machines, Brogan said. Not only is it useful for the students spearheading the project to understand the need and enthusiasm for the service, but once administrators realize it’s something students want and actually use, they may be more likely to join, she said.

“It’s a foundation when you go and have a conversation with the government to justify, like, hey, it’s not just me and two of my friends who want to do this, Brogan said. She added that a survey could show officials that many students “see this as a good opportunity on campus.”

Figure out how to pay the cost of the project.

Buying a lot of Universal Plan B, as well as the vending machine itself (if you can’t add your medication to an existing machine on campus) will obviously cost money, And there are all sorts of ways to pay for it, Brogan said. For example, BU’s SRF group is a Planned Parenthood Generation Action Club, which means they receive annual funding through Planned Parenthood (in their case, Planned Parenthood Boston).

Students also used club funds provided by BU’s Office of Student Organizations—supporting resources on many college campuses—as well as funds from individual alumni donations, Beatty said. According to Beatty, BU students spent about $3,000 between installing, stocking and promoting the vending machines. The biggest expense, she said, was the machine itself, which was about $2,700.

Seeking help with drug purchases and purchasing and stocking vending machines.

Even if they had the funds, BU’s SRF students found there were other hurdles to overcome — namely finding people with the right type of medical license to order Plan B in bulk.



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