Jason Wu/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

On Thursday, Student Assembly representatives voted on resolutions to implement a Plan B vending machine on campus and denounce atrocities committed against Uyghur Muslims in Xianjiang, China.

February 10, 2023

Student Assembly Votes to Bring Plan B Vending Machine to Campus, Passes Resolution 23

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On Thursday, the Student Assembly passed a resolution supporting the implementation of vending machines on campus carrying emergency contraceptive, Plan B. 

The initiative to bring Plan B vending machines to campus was led by Cornell’s chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action, whose goals on campus include expanding access to reproductive healthcare. 

Two members of the organization, Marley Levy ’24 and Katherine Esterl ’24, presented the resolution along with student assembly members Duncan Cady ’23, Andrew Richmond ’26, Shelby Williams ’25, Sanvi Bhardwaj ’24 and Pedro Da Silveira ’24. 

Levy, a leader in PPGA’s emergency contraceptive vending machine project, was inspired to start the project when she came across a post of an emergency contraceptive vending machine at Boston University. Peer institutions such as Dartmouth and Columbia have also expanded their vending machine offerings to include emergency contraception. 

Last semester, PPGA conducted a survey with over 700 respondents from the Cornell community, which revealed a significant need for emergency contraception on campus. 

53.3 percent of respondents answered that they have accessed emergency contraption for themselves or others in the past, and 86.8 percent of respondents answered that they “strongly agree” that they will need to access emergency contraption in the future. 

The resolution addresses issues of accessibility and affordability as potential barriers to reproductive justice. 

“The medical needs of our community members do not cease with the conclusion of the business day,” the resolution reads. “Current access to emergency contraception on campus is limited due to pharmacy operating hours.”

The Cornell Health pharmacy operates under 50 hours a week during business hours six days a week. 

“The nearest retailers to Cornell’s campus for Plan B One-Step [name brand] are CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens and Target, all of which are more than a 30-minute walk away, one-way, from central campus,” the resolution reads. 

Esterl said that vending machines would start as part of a pilot program in which the goal would be to have 1-2 machines on North and Central campuses. If the community responded positively, the pilot program would be replicated and expanded across campus. 

The vending machines would not only include emergency contraception but also other “essential non-prescription pharmaceuticals,” according to the resolution.

Representatives from Planned Parenthood Generation Action at Cornell propose a vending machine program for emergency contraception on Cornell’s Campus at a Student Assembly Meeting, Feb 9, 2023, Willard Straight Hall (Jason Wu/Sun Assistant Photography Editor)

The resolution passed with unanimous consent. 

Once the resolution is passed, it will go to Pres. Martha Pollack, who will have 30 days to respond.

“I hope this resolution more than anything can be a source of relief to someone. College is a stressful enough process without having to live through major moments of uncertainty in inequality,” Cady said. “I see access to essential health care like this as just one new way we can help a fellow student.”

In a statement to The Sun, Student Assembly President Valeria Valencia ’23 wrote that there is continued work to be done with Cornell Health regarding this initiative. 

“Some emergency contraceptives stop working after a certain weight [Plan B for example works less effectively if someone weighs more than 165 pounds] but these contraceptives are not available without a prescription and therefore would not be available at the vending machines,” Valencia wrote. 

During the meeting, the Assembly also passed Resolution 23: Standing in Solidarity with Uyghur Muslims and Minorities, which denounces the Chinese genocide of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in the Xinjiang region and supports student advocacy efforts against it, and was presented by Sanvi Bhardwaj ’24 ’24 and Free Uygurs Rally members Suha Khan ’24 ’24 and Zoë Johnson-Berman ’2 ’24. 

“Thank you so much for the work you did on this resolution,” said Michelle Song ’25, vice president of diversity and inclusion, to the presenters. “I think it’s absolutely imperative to draw attention to what’s going on in the Xinjiang region. It’s atrocious.”