Student club petitions for menstrual, contraceptive product vending machines

Siri Patterson, Managing Editor

Planned Parenthood Generation Action created a petition in 2021 to get a vending machine with reproductive health products, which is now only a few hundred signatures away from their goal. 

The proposed vending machine would be placed in Plemmons Student Union and provide products like condoms, menstrual products, pregnancy tests, ibuprofen and Plan B at a discounted price. 

Megha Bali, the president of PPGA, said the machine could help break down barriers to access that students face. 

“This vending machine will provide more accessibility to not only our student body but also to our community,” Bali said. “We want to provide a guilt-free, safe and private way for individuals to get what they need without the need for a conversation that might restrict that.”

The current petition has reached 615 signatures as of Sept. 26, Bali said. This is the second petition the group has created for the vending machine, the first having reached 327 signatures. 

PPGA is a student club dedicated to educating, destigmatizing and advocating for sexual and reproductive wellness, according to their Instagram. They have been lobbying and fundraising for the machine since 2019, but have faced setbacks along the way, said Leah Rogers, vice president of PPGA. 

“Getting something centralized, that is, like, specifically about reproductive health, is just really problematic for a lot of people,” Rogers said. 

PPGA has previously held fundraising campaigns for the machine, and raised around $1,000 to put towards the installation and stocking of the machine, said Bali. However, their efforts were cut short due to COVID-19. 

“We have the money for the vending machine, we are just waiting on the school’s approval,” Bali said.  

The PPGA chapter at Davidson College installed a sexual wellness vending machine in the student union in 2019, and named it “Wellness Wendy.” According to an article written by the group after installation, the “immense” benefits of the machine became clear when the products rapidly sold “shortly after installation.”

The university has a number of places on campus where students can access reproductive and menstrual health products, such as health services and wellness and prevention services. If the Student Government and Board of Trustees approves the vending machine, students would have access to yet another place to obtain the health products they might need. 

“The reproductive health services provided by App can be beneficial and helpful to the student population,” said Sophia Alayna, a representative of the Women’s Center. 

In addition to the petition, PPGA is looking toward future steps in making the vending machine a reality. 

“Our next step is to get another bill passed through the student government, and ultimately have those upwards of 600 people be proof that this is not a fringe idea on campus; this is something that a lot of students are interested in,” Rogers said.