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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

California college campuses begin to provide wellness vending machines

Cebelli Pfiefer
University of California Santa Barbara has implemented Wellness Vending Machine on campus providing sexual health and wellness products for minimal costs. By 2029, California Universities will be required to have one vending machine on campus carrying contraceptives, menstrual products and more.

Since its establishment in 2017, the University of California Santa Barbara has been home to the wellness vending machine, a vending machine on campus that offers affordable sexual health and wellness products including emergency contraceptives like Plan B.

With the recent signing of Assembly Bill 2482 in California, by 2029, California Community Colleges as well as California State Universities will be required by law to implement at least one “vending machine that dispenses wellness products” on their respective campuses. California Universities are “requested” to implement them as well.

In alliance with Bill 2482, City College plans to establish a wellness vending machine in The WELL for students to use at their disposal this upcoming spring semester.

“It’s all about access, equity and to have students feel comfortable gaining these very important supplies,” Becky Bean, The WELL student program advisor, said. “Our goal is to make not only sexual health accessible, but also to make sure students don’t feel embarrassed or confused.”

There are two places at City College where students can obtain information and help concerning sexual health and wellness. At The WELL, students can obtain wellness products including condoms, female condoms, lubricating oil, and more. The Student Health Services, also known as The Clinic, offers emergency contraceptives such as Plan B, as well as pregnancy tests for City College students. The wellness vending machine will not hold Plan B or any emergency contraceptives; only sexual wellness and health items. However, students can still purchase Plan B at the clinic on campus.

Plan B, often referred to as “the morning-after pill” is a form of emergency contraception encouraged to be taken up to 72 hours after engaging in unprotected sex. Plan B is not an abortion pill.

“Students who are interested in gaining Plan B can come to The Clinic and pay $12,” Bean said. “This price is significantly less than what a student would pay going into a pharmacy, which typically would be around $50.”

Although Plan B will have a price tag, most other items will not. The sexual wellness items such as condoms will be free of charge in the vending machine itself. The vending machine acts as a catalyst to de-stigmatize sexual health and the fear of embarrassment around purchasing wellness products.

“This wellness vending machine will provide access to students who are seeking sexual health, menstrual care products and help students feel more comfortable gaining sexual health support products and resources,” Bean said. “These sexual health products will continue to be free for students.”

In light of Roe v. Wade being overturned in recent years, sexual health and the sexual well-being of students have grown to become not only a controversial topic but also a stigmatized region of conversation.

“Nobody should feel embarrassed for taking control of their reproductive health, but unfortunately, there is still a stigma around emergency contraception,” UCSB Women’s Center Student Coordinator Maha Parsons said. “I think it’s important to offer emergency contraception specifically in an anonymous format.”

The anonymous form of receiving and purchasing sexual wellness products has eased the process of obtaining these products.

Jessica Evers, who is also a UCSB Women’s Center student Coordinator, is responsible for overseeing and ensuring the proper function of the wellness vending machine on the UCSB campus.

“There is a sense of comfort and no judgment with this machine,” Evers said. “There is no added pressure or anxiety when buying these supplies since it is just you involved. Nobody else needs to be in your business.”

At UCSB, students have responded positively to the machine utilizing its resources at a consistent rate.

“This year, the publicity for the vending machine has skyrocketed, and more and more students are using it,” Parsons said. “This quarter, I have needed to restock Plan B and Pregnancy Tests twice a week and order more biweekly. This machine, in my opinion, has made a huge positive impact on UCSB students.”

The wellness vending machine acts as a safe, reliable space where students can receive sexual wellness supplies without the added fear of judgment or embarrassment when obtaining these items. More Universities have begun to implement these wellness machines on their campuses, contributing to the de-stigmatization of sexual wellness in California.

“We want our SBCC students to feel empowered around their sexual health and wellness,” Bean said. “I think the vending machines make it very normalized and inviting. We’ve been excited to get our own.”

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