After the Yale College Council’s December revelation that selling Plan B contraception in vending machines is illegal in Connecticut, the Council temporarily paused the installation of the 24/7 “wellness to go” machine. Over six months later, students will now be able to access condoms and other products at the new sexual health and wellness vending machine in Bass Library.
The YCC finally initiated the long-awaited pilot project in August 2019. The machine sells three basic sex and health-related products, including KY Jelly, Trojan ENZ and Kotex U Click Tampons. The KY Jelly, a personal lubricant, is sold for $5.99, compared to $6.99 at CVS, while the Trojan ENZ condoms are sold for $3.99, notably almost $3 cheaper than the same condoms sold at CVS. Meanwhile, a pack of three tampons is sold for $2.49, which equates to almost $1 per tampon, as opposed to 32¢ per tampon of the same brand at CVS. According to former YCC Senator Ileana Valdez ’21 — who spearheaded the project — the YCC collaborated with Vengo Labs, a company that offers small, compact vending machines and free re-stocking.
Though the machine was originally planned to be housed in the Silliman Good Life Center, students from across campus will have access to its array of products, including tampons and lubricant, at the Bass Library location.
“We believe that students — especially students in the new colleges, who are located farther away from drugstores — should have easy access to a wide variety of sexual health-related products,” said YCC President Kahlil Greene ’21. “This machine will benefit students in its provision of consistent, accurate and uniform side-effect information on every product that the machine vends. Upon purchase, this particular machine will give students an automatic rundown of any important health information related to the product.”
“Bass Library already had a lot of the set-up we needed for the vending machine (an Ethernet port and power port),” Valdez explained in an email when asked why the location shifted from the Good Life Center.
Greene added that Bass Library is a “central location” and that the machine includes a “wide variety of sexual health-related products.” He noted that the specific location of the machine in the café’s enclave offers students privacy while making any purchases.
While the wellness machine does not include emergency contraception, according to Yale Health’s website, emergency contraception is “free for all Yale students” and is available at the Yale Health pharmacy or Acute Care. Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd noted last November in an email to the News that all first-year students are required to take a workshop with Community Health Educators, where they learn about contraception and the types of contraception available at Yale.
Still, according to last year’s YCC fall survey data, over 75 percent of student respondents said they were unaware that Yale Health offers emergency contraception 24/7 and for free.
Valdez said that although she is no longer a part of the YCC, she has personally received “pretty positive feedback.”
Among the nine students interviewed by the News, all had favorable opinions on the machine.
“I think it’s great that Yale is trying to make sexual wellness products more accessible to students on campus,” said Nick Pham ’20.
In recent years, other universities such as Stanford, Pomona College and Brandeis have also installed wellness machines with sexual health related products.
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