Vending machines are ubiquitous around Kansas State’s campus, offering students junk food, energy drinks and even piping hot coffee at their convenience. It’s this ease of access that draws students toward vending machines; there is no hassle and no middle man, just pure, resilient efficiency.
Stanford is one of the latest universities to install a new kind of vending machine on campus: a wellness machine. Stanford’s student government association and the university administration struck a deal to pay for the machine half and half, according to an article by The New York Times.
The machine installed on Stanford’s campus was stuffed with many varieties of condoms and My Way, a generic version of the Plan B emergency contraceptive at $25 a pop. Other variations of wellness machines around the country are filled with Advil, Claritin, pregnancy tests, feminine hygiene products and other items.
So why doesn’t K-State have a wellness machine yet? I think it has to do with a societal taboo.
A cheaper, generic version of a hard-to-access drug is not the reason a wellness machine would receive pushback on this campus. If the machine included medical marijuana instead of morning-after contraceptives, students would go crazy in celebration. The machine would probably run dry in less than 24 hours.
K-State doesn’t have a wellness machine because the use of a morning-after pill, an over-the-counter medication, has been sexualized to the point of oppression. It is a topic that is skipped over or only briefly mentioned in alcohol and sexual abuse prevention programs.
No one wants to talk about it, no one wants to talk about buying it and no one wants to talk to a person while buying it. But this is exactly why K-State needs a wellness machine.
Perhaps one of the sole benefits of the army of vending machines around campus is that students do not face confrontation over their purchases, whether they are buying their seventh bag of sour gummy worms, their fourth Mountain Dew Kickstart or a single morning-after pill.
Access to medication and appropriate health care is not an embarrassment. It is not a privilege. It is a right, and as students paying thousands of dollars to obtain a degree, it would be encouraging to see an acknowledgment of our health, not an interference or backlash.
Yes, these machines carry a drug that delays the release of an egg from an ovary due to a higher dosage of the same synthetic hormone found in birth control. But these machines are not obscene, heretical or challenging to any beliefs.
The students passionate about bringing these machines to college campuses across the United States are passionate about the health of their fellow students. I hope the K-State administration will show the same passion.
Madison Obermeyer is a junior in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to [email protected]