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Davis, California

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

UC Davis’ excellent Plan B

HANNAH LEE / AGGIE

Wellness To Go machine provides affordable emergency contraceptives to students

UC Davis has made strides in sexual health and reproductive rights with the installation of a Plan B vending machine in the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) on March 31. The “Wellness To Go machine” offers tampons, lubricant, condoms, various other forms of birth control and, most controversially, morning-after pills. The project was led by former ASUCD senator Parteek Singh, with help from the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) and Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS).

The Editorial Board commends Singh, the SHWC, the SHCS and all others who were instrumental in bringing this vending machine to campus. While many ASUCD senators enter and leave office without making much of a dent in any of their platforms, this was never the case with Singh, whose knowledge of ASUCD and forward-thinking platforms (one of which was Plan B vending machines) impressed members of the Editorial Board back in fall 2015 when they made him their number-one endorsement.

The two years of hard work, planning and dedication on behalf of Singh and those involved was well worth it, as UC Davis is now one of only four campuses in the U.S. to provide students with this level of access to emergency contraceptives (EC).

The placement of the Wellness To Go machine in the ARC means students have nearly 24-hour access to EC on almost all days of the week. This is a huge improvement considering that prior to this month, the only other on-campus facility that offered EC was the SHCS Pharmacy, which extends extremely inaccessible hours (8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and closed on weekends) that can make these resources unattainable for busy students in need. Singh also ensured that the machine would offer students Plan B at the lowest price possible, $30 — a considerable feat seeing as the pill’s price can reach up to $65 at local drugstores.

This accomplishment could not have come at a more crucial time in U.S. history. The Trump administration seems hell-bent on risking decades worth of progress made in women’s health and reproductive rights with recent threats to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides sexual and reproductive healthcare to “nearly five million women, men, and adolescents worldwide” each year, according to its website.

However, taking away an organization that provides outreach and resources to millions of people nationwide won’t change the facts — a 2015 study found that 87 percent of U.S. college students reported having had sexual intercourse, with “a third of sexually active college students [reporting that] they have used EC.” Additionally, 56 percent of college students said they know someone who has had an STD, and 62 percent of students reported having known of another person who’d had an abortion.

Teenage pregnancies in the U.S. decreased 42 percent from 1990 to 2008 as a result of improved contraceptive use. The statistics speak for themselves.

While it’s both impractical and impossible to try and stop young adults from having sex, providing them with the proper resources to practice safe sex is entirely achievable — something Singh proved this past month.

The Editorial Board hopes that other student leaders can follow in the footsteps of ASUCD senators like Singh, with his most recent success, and Samantha Chiang, who founded UC Davis’ first ever mental health conference in February. It is because of the leadership of determined students, like Singh and Chiang, that UC Davis will continue to advance in the areas of mental, sexual and reproductive health.

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