Brandeis Pro-Choice, a student organization, plans to install a wellness vending machine containing free Plan B by the end of the academic year. After receiving a grant from Planned Parenthood to fund the project, the student club has been working with administration and the Student Union to finish the project.
In October, Brandeis Pro-Choice received a $5,000 grant from Planned Parenthood’s national college program, Planned Parenthood Generation Action, to purchase and supply a wellness vending machine to be installed in the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC). The machine is intended to contain free Plan B as well as other health products, such as menstrual products and ibuprofen.
Since then, Brandeis-Pro-Choice has contacted the administration and Student Union to discuss the logistics of the project. The organization is a chapter of Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts (PPAF) and has been advised by PPAF since the start of the project.
The logistics of the vending machine remain to be determined. Brandeis Pro-Choice hopes to solidify the location, funding and sustainability of the machine with Campus Operations and other administration officials.
The organization hopes that the machine will remain funded and stocked after the grant money has been exhausted, according to Abigail Belyea ’18, Brandeis Pro-Choice’s Events Director and a Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies major who has been with Brandeis Pro-Choice since her sophomore year.
Brandeis Pro-Choice has also presented the idea of a wellness vending machine to students in the SCC atrium and circulated a petition to gauge student support. The petition currently has approximately 130 signatures, according to Belyea. They have reached out to other clubs asking them for support in letters or testimonials. The organization has also received support from the administration.
The vending machine is expected to be installed by May; however, according to Belyea, contacting the administration has been difficult due to how busy the schedules of all parties’ are as the semester ends.
“They’re busy especially this time of year so it’s definitely been maybe a little slower than what we would want… but they’ve been encouraging,” Belyea said. “I think once we can finally meet with them and actually talk about logistics it will be more concrete.”
Brandeis Pro-Choice originally pursued this project because of the lack of access to Plan B on weekends, as the Health Center is only open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Belyea cited other benefits of the machine as well, including the ability for either a male or female partner to pick up Plan B, the price (free) and the anonymity of getting Plan B from the machines.
“People don’t really want to be seen doing that and they don’t really want to have that face to face contact while doing that [getting Plan B],” said Belyea. “I think that… having that 24/7 access is really, really important because if…you are in a position where you need Plan B and you can’t easily get to Walgreens or CVS and you have to wait until Monday… that’s almost 72 hours that you have to wait…and it’s [Plan B] more effective the earlier you take it.”
The Health Center currently offers free Plan B within business hours to students. As the Health Center administers Plan B, only a female can pick up the contraceptive. Plan B, commonly referred to as the morning after pill, is an emergency contraceptive more effective the sooner it is taken after intercourse.
Brandeis Pro-Choice also hopes to put up flyers on the machine directed at victims of sexual assault, detailing resources for counseling and assistance. Formerly known as Brandeis for NARAL (National
Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League), Brandeis Pro-Choice works on a variety of projects, including supporting and campaigning for local politicians.
Brandeis Pro-Choice meets Wednesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. in Schwartz 110.