Stanford subsidizing 'Plan B' vending machine

Sandor Farkas
Collegiate Network Fellow

  • Stanford University recently installed a vending machine in its student center that dispenses morning-after pills, condoms, and other forms of emergency contraception.
  • The university is helping to subsidize the products, which are otherwise only available from the school's health center on weekdays.
  • Stanford University recently installed a vending machine to dispense emergency contraceptives, including a generic brand of Plan-B, outside an “all-gender restroom” in the student center.

    The digital vending machine sells My Way, an “emergency contraception pill that helps prevent pregnancy after birth control failure or unprotected sex.” The drug is a form of levonorgestrel, commonly known under the brand name Plan-B, which purportedly reduces the chance of pregnancy by 87 percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

    "It’s a right, and our rights should not be limited to business hours."   

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    According to The Stanford Daily, Stanford subsidizes the cost of items from the machine, charging $25.00 for a dose of My Way, $3.99 for three “external condoms,” $9.99 for three “internal condoms,” and $4.49 for 10 Advil.

    Stanford’s student government, Institutional Equity & Access office, and four other offices fund the machine, which sits outside an “all-gender restroom” in the historic Old Union building. The machine accepts credit cards, and is located adjacent to another vending machine that dispenses food that can be taken with the contraceptives.

    Stanford’s Old Union building originally housed a women’s dormitory, the student union, the offices for religious life, and co-educational programing from the Young Women’s Christian Association. The building still serves as a student union and center for religious life.

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    Rachel Samuels, a former student who has since graduated, conceived the idea for the vending machine in early 2015 after her brother helped install a similar dispensary at Pomona College.

    She partnered with other student activists to conduct a survey to gauge student support, and after determining that a majority of students supported their plan, they met with administrators to work out logistical and legal issues.

    Students argue that the vending machine is necessary because without it, there is no way to obtain subsidized My Way on campus during weekends, when the school’s health center is closed.

    “It’s a right, and our rights should not be limited to business hours,” Samuels told The Stanford Daily.

    “In the end, Stanford administrators did step up and do it, and I’m very grateful for that,” she added. “It’s nice to just keep in mind that they really should be caring about students, and this was a time when they did.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @SFarkas48





    Sandor Farkas

    Sandor Farkas

    Collegiate Network Fellow
    Sandor Farkas is a Collegiate Network Fellow at Campus Reform. Prior to starting this fellowship, he was a Tikvah Fellow. Farkas earned a degree in history from Dartmouth College, where he was editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth Review. Farkas also serves as an officer in the Virginia Army National Guard.
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