The Wash
Protestors at the American University campus. Mirika Rayaprolu/The Wash

AU students march for greater access to emergency contraceptives on campus

American University students are demanding the university provide vending machines that dispense emergency contraceptives.

More than a dozen American University students marched today around the quad urging the university’s administration to provide emergency contraceptive vending machines on campus.

Students for Reproductive Justice along with Students for Change are running the campaign with the goal of increasing accessibility and affordability of emergency contraceptives on campus.

Lane Thimmesch, president of Students for Reproductive Justice, said the vending machines would enable students to discreetly dispense the contraceptives they needed at any time of the day.

Lane Thimmesch and Kaniya Harris addressing the crowds before marching around campus. Mirika Rayaprolu/The Wash

Thimmesch expressed concern for the state of reproductive rights in a post-Roe v. Wade world. 

“It’s absolutely critical that any reproductive healthcare services we can have at our disposal that are accessible, affordable, serving students properly, can exist,” said Thimmesch. “This is a nationwide crisis.”

She said the initiative aimed at pricing on-campus contraceptives like Plan B at $7-to-$10. 

“Hopefully, we’re going to really try and cut down the costs significantly so that way any student who needs it can access the reproductive health care that they need,” Thimmesch said.

Protestors were asked to wear green clothing to the march to honor other global abortion rights movements.

“Green is a color that represents a lot of the South American reproductive rights movement,” Thimmesch said. 

Kaniya Harris, director at Students for Change, said the only contraceptives on campus were available at the Student Health Center and not readily accessible to students.

The American University Student Health Center opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. The center is closed through the weekend.

The president of the AU Reproductive Justice said that it was important to have access to EC’s 24/7. Mirika Rayaprolu/The Wash

“The hours at the Student Health Center aren’t feasible, especially for students that are working full-time or part-time jobs, because their limited hours don’t allow students to be there and have access to Plan B,” said Harris. 

Harris said that having contraceptives on campus would help achieve the organization’s goal of making access to contraceptives inexpensive. 

She said that, with the proposed price, contraceptive pills would be almost $40 cheaper than pills off-campus.

Protestors said having emergency contraceptive vending machines would also protect survivors of sexual assault from unwanted pregnancies. They noted that George Washington University earlier this year installed a vending machine that dispenses morning-after pills. 

Paige Ammann, the director of communications at AU Reproductive Justice, said that the Student Health Center and pharmacies like Walgreens “are not always accessible.”

“We don’t have any place to go for 24-hour care,” Ammann said. “Accessibility for Plan B and other emergency contraceptives is more vital now than ever.”

More than a dozen AU students marched around campus in support of the EC vending machines. Mirika Rayaprolu/The Wash

Sia Patel, an advocate for survivor rights on campus, said the initiative is a “shared community resource.”

“What’s great about the work we do for survivors and for the emergency contraceptives is that it’s for every student and faculty on this campus,” said Patel. “If you’re a grad student, if you’re faculty or staff, this is for you, too.”


Mirika Rayaprolu

Before becoming a graduate journalism student at American University, I was a freelance reporter and a political researcher for Young People for Politics in Mumbai, India. Some of my published work includes reports on the Bombay dock explosion of 1944, a study on female radicalisations by ISIS in the U.K. and an analysis of online fan clubs of the Columbine High School shooters. My video production work includes Bombay Groove, a documentary on Mumbai’s underground hip-hop scene. My interests lie in covering reproductive freedom, immigration and workers’ rights. I am originally from Mumbai, moved to Dallas in 2022 and currently reside in Washington, D.C.

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