by Victoria Fennell
Students who have spent time in the Stood recently may have noticed a new addition to its collection of bric-a-brac, a vending machine that offers students condoms, tampons, pads and lubricant completely free of charge.
An initiative started by Student Activities Coordinator Evan Liu in conjunction with the Alt Center and the Stood, the machine has been getting a lot of use.
“When we first got it, every day I would come in and we would have to completely re-shelf to the point the Alt Center, since it's the end of the year and they hadn’t prepared to buy all this stuff, is running out of supplies,” said Liu. “Which is great. That means everyone is getting what they need to get.”
The Alt Center, a student run service dedicated to safe sex, body positivity and gender identity, provides all the products currently in the machine, through MSAF funds.
“We we want to make sure that students have safe sex products and menstrual products accessible to them. We believe these are necessities for students,” said Alt Center Director Katie Lamar. “I am really happy we have the vending machine as a way to say, here are products and if you need more, they are in the Alt Center.”
The vending machine was donated by PepsiCo and offers new and discreet way for students to access products that could potentially cause a feeling of embarrassment or self-consciousness.
“I’ve seen people go to reach for condoms in a bucket and think, this is kind of strange, looking around to see if anyone is looking,” said Liu. “A vending machine made it socially accessible.”
As the first of its kind on campus, the machine, which has been decorated by employees, seems to fit in perfectly at the Stood.
“It is without a doubt to me the only place that is solely students, it's completely run by students and it's made and catered to the students,” said Liu. “This is a place where you can be yourself and not be judged for anything.”
A hub for parties and activities, the Stood is often the student life center of campus, and the addition of the machine has been a convenience for many.
“This is where people go before they need condoms, and no one wants to be stuck without a pad or tampon when they’re trying to party,” said Elisabeth Eriole, Stood employee and sophomore media studies major.
While there are currently no plans to expand the vending machines to other parts of campus, that may one day be an option. In the meantime, the amount of products available may start to increase with the addition of Stood merchandise and items such as ear plugs.
Overall, the response to the vending machine has been positive and the uniqueness in which students can access the products a big draw.
“I think its really cool and the fact it's in a vending machine,” said Angelina Sobredo, sophomore theater performance major. “That’s a good idea.”