Vending Machines Distribute Sexual, Menstrual Health Products


Abe frato

Two Personal Vending Machines are now available on campus.

The Office of Student Health and Wellbeing, in collaboration with the Sexual Information Center, is working to roll out “Personal Vending Machines” for students. Via these machines, students will be able to access condoms, lubricant, dental dams, emergency contraception pills, pads, and tampons — all free of charge.

Starting today, two machines are available to students. The vending machines are located in the South Hall basement and the Science Center atrium. The machines will be accessible during each building’s hours of operation.

“We really wanted a machine on the north side and south side of campus,” Director of Student Wellness Promotion Monique Burgdorf said.

The locations of the vending machines were selected with consideration of safety regulations, the availability of electrical power, and student traffic. During the fall semester, clear boxes that dispensed condoms and lubricant were set up in Fairchild House, South Hall, Firelands Apartments, and Lord- Saunders Dining Hall. South Hall was selected as a location for the South Campus vending machine based on the popularity of the clear dispenser in the building.

According to Burgdorf, the South Hall machine is located downstairs, outside of the dance studio, for user privacy. Although the machine is located in the South Hall residence space, it will be accessible to all who have swipe access to the building — regardless of whether or not they live in South Hall.

After consulting students on their preferred locations for the clear manual dispensers, Burgdorf asked that the vending machines be in a well-lit area that also provided some privacy.

“[Some] students were like, ‘These need to be totally private,’ and then other students were like, ‘This needs to be in an obvious space,’” Burgdorf said. “We split the difference so that if you felt discomfort with one area, you might feel more comfortable going in another area.”

College fourth-year and SIC student worker Remsen Welsh feels that the vending machine will especially add necessary privacy for students who are attempting to obtain emergency contraceptive pills.

“It would just be great if there was another way that people could get emergency contraceptive[s] especially when [the SIC is] out,’” Welsh said. “It would be easy and kind of private.”

The vending machines and their items are funded by the Dean of Students Office through the Office of Student Health and Wellbeing.

“[Karen Goff, vice president and dean of students] saw that another school was doing it and she was like, ‘Let’s do it,’ and she advocated for the funding,” Burgdorf said.

Burgdorf hopes the vending machines will expand accessibility to menstrual and sexual health products for students. On the door to its office in Wilder Hall, the SIC provides pads, condoms, lube, emergency contraceptives, and dental dams for free.

“[We] definitely knew that emergency contraceptives needed to be in there because those go quick off our door, and when we’re out, we have to refer people to [the] Student Health [Center],” Welsh said.

According to Burgdorf, College administrators worked with the SIC to select products based on quality and cost-effectiveness. Burgdorf was able to work with companies that provide sexual health products to lower the price of their products so the items can be offered for free to students.

“I want these products to remain free for students so that our students who cannot afford these products will be able to access them,” Burgdorf said.

VendTek Wholesale Equipment, Inc. designed the machines to hold the selected products. Though VendTek typically sells food and beverage vending machines, the brand was able to alter the machines’ coil sizes to fit the products’ boxes.