We have vending machines for almost everything nowadays — no longer are they solely the home of sodas and your favorite bag of chips. Japan is known for having vending machines for umbrellas, pantyhose, cold sake and beer. People can also go to vending machines in airports for espressos, hot chocolate and even mason jar salads. We have everything that we could possibly need. Well, almost everything, that is. Now, you can get Plan B from a vending machine. 

ale, coffee, beer
Annika Altura

What we don't have enough of is access to wellness and immediate care. As an Aggie at UC Davis, I am proud to say that in our Activities and Recreation Center, we can push a button and get Plan B from a vending machine. I walked into that room with the intention of taking nothing from the machine but pictures. I even played with the machine a little bit to find the different prices, as not all of them are listed by the glass. While I might've gotten a couple of looks from other students for holding a camera in front of it, I didn't really feel any judgment from having to use the machine for anything. In a lot of ways, I felt safe. 

One of the most integral parts of this vending machine is that it offers Contra_EZ, an emergency contraceptive (comparable to Plan B One-Step) at a lower rate than would be available at pharmacies. The reality is that people in college will be sexually active, and they may sometimes also find themselves in situations where they'll have to turn to Plan B. Knowing that I can get it from a machine that prices it at $30 instead of the $50-60 from pharmacies is comforting. 

Annika Altura

Also in the vending machine are feminine products such as diva cups, tampons and pads, and access to pregnancy tests — all for much cheaper than they're traditionally sold for in most pharmacies. 

tea, coffee, beer
Annika Altura

The Associated Students, UCD Senator Parteek Singh made sure to communicate the importance of this on his platform during his senate run. He noticed that there was only one pharmacy in all of Davis that was open for 24 hours. With the way that college kids are nowadays, not having access to Plan B, say, on the weekends (when pharmacies can potentially run out) was no longer an option.

The initial plan was for the machine to solely contain Plan B and sexual and reproductive health related items. The school rejected this almost immediately due to its controversy, and Singh had to re-propose the idea to aim for overall health and wellness. Making this machine a little more in line with California law, it also carries Ibuprofen, Tylenol and Claritin for days when coffee just doesn't quite cut it.

Aggies have generally been accepting of the idea of the machine. One student, Will, 21, says, "In this political climate, where it feels like there is so much debate about women having rights over their own bodies, UC Davis has taken a step forward in that it provides women the ability to have control over their bodies and use these birth control methods if they want or need to." Another student, Ana, 20, reminds us that on the flip side, "It could potentially cause students to take more risks with their sexual intercourse because of its accessibility, but at the end of the day, it's a personal choice and I respect that." 

By having this vending machine, the school is able to make a statement and relay that we as a student body want to create a space for students to be comfortable. While I haven't had to use the machine yet myself, I believe that this is a very important and progressive step forward in the right direction, allowing every person the opportunity to be healthy and safe.