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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

VSG and Generation Action for Planned Parenthood bring contraceptive vending machine to campus

The vending machine was installed near the Branscomb Munchie Mart and was launched on April 30.
Gabe Loewenson
Emergency contraception vending machine in Branscomb Quad, as photographed on May 4, 2024. (Hustler Staff/Gabe Loewenson)

Vanderbilt Student Government and Generation Action for Planned Parenthood installed a new vending machine offering contraceptive materials in Branscomb Quad. The machine was installed near the Munchie Mart on April 25 and began operations on April 30.

Efforts to implement the new vending machine were led by seniors Caleb Boyer and Caroline Rutigliano, VSG Campus Services committee chair and co-president of Generation Action for Planned Parenthood, respectively. Boyer and Rutigliano worked with Campus Dining, the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center and the American Society for Emergency Contraception to bring this initiative to campus. 

The location in the Branscomb Munchie Mart was chosen for its accessibility to undergraduate students and for its discreteness.

“That location will hopefully help provide a little bit of privacy where it’s not a huge open space where people can watch what you’re buying,” Rutigliano said.

A wide range of products will be in the machine, including pregnancy tests, personal lube, COVID-19 rapid tests and apple chips. Emergency contraception at the vending machine will be sold for a price of $12. 

“The reason that we wanted such a diverse span of products in the machine is so people felt empowered to walk up to the machine and buy something,” Rutigliano said. “If you’re buying Plan B at the machine, people don’t necessarily know that. You could be buying the apple chips that are also at the machine.”

According to Boyer and Rutigliano, the Tennessee abortion restrictions following Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022) pushed them to introduce the machine. They also cited concerns about the lack of availability of stigma-free contraception as another motivating factor. Boyer and Rutigliano said they hope the machine will serve to remedy both of these problems.  

“Considering that you can’t get an abortion in Tennessee, it’s important to start looking towards more preventative models and making sure that things like contraceptives are easily accessible,” Rutigliano said. 

Dr. Rory Dicker, Director of the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center, said she proposed the idea after seeing a similar vending machine at Boston University in 2022. The Women’s Center will oversee the restocking of both the emergency contraception and pregnancy tests in the machine.

“I spoke with colleagues at the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center, particularly our program coordinator Sarah Brennan who oversees Vandy Sex Ed, about the possibility of getting such a vending machine at Vanderbilt to support our campus community after the uncertainty caused by the recent Dobbs decision,” Dicker said.

Kelly Cleland, executive director of the American Society for Emergency Contraception, advised VSG and Generation Action for Planned Parenthood about this initiative. Cleland noted that there are several schools introducing similar contraceptive machines throughout the nation. 

“There are now at least 75 colleges with vending machines offering emergency contraception across the country, with dozens more in progress,” Cleland said. “The momentum is building, and every school that implements one in a new region inspires more schools to do the same. We’re so thrilled to see Vanderbilt taking a leadership position as the first college or university in the state of Tennessee to offer emergency contraception in a vending machine.”

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About the Contributor
Gabe Loewenson
Gabe Loewenson, Staff Writer
Gabe Loewenson ('24) is majoring in economics and history in the College of Arts and Science. He is from Marlboro, New Jersey. In his spare time, Gabe likes playing the piano, chatting with friends and keeping up with news about events in the world.
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19 days ago

Proud of my alma mater for taking steps to help young women during a time their rights continue to be stripped away or debated.