Students at New Jersey's Ramapo College say their school makes it unreasonably difficult to get Plan B — they say they have to make an appointment and sometimes discuss their sex practices with a clinician in order to get the medicine. They want a Plan B policy more like The College of New Jersey's — so we decided to take a look at some other colleges and universities in the area and how hard (or easy) it is to get emergency contraception there.
Jillian Grimaldi, president of Feminists United at Ramapo College of NJ, told us,
At Ramapo students who want to access Emergency Contraception are required to make an appointment. Students have reported being asked questions about the nature of the incident (was it consensual, was protection used, etc.) and required to sit through a lecture about safer sex during these appointments, before they are finally allowed to receive the pill. [...]
Aside from the intrusive nature of this system, it is also putting an undue strain on our already overtaxed Health Services. Although Health Services promises to see students within the 72-hour window that is recommended, this means that sometimes students are waiting 24+ hours to be seen. Since we know that the sooner the pill is taken, the better chance there is of it working this waiting period seems medically irresponsible to us.
She added that friends or partners aren't allowed to purchase Plan B on others' behalf, and this forces students to go off-campus — difficult for those who don't have cars — to get their EC needs met. She points out that students don't have to make this extra trek if they need, say, Advil. She also says, "We strongly believe that Health Services should move to a model like one one used at TCNJ [The College of New Jersey], where Plan B is available OTC to anyone over 17 who is willing to read and sign consent forms." We checked with that school, and few others, to learn more about their policies.
The College of New Jersey
A representative for TCNJ said that yes, Plan B is available over-the-counter there, as long as you're a student.
According to the NYU Student Health Center website,
ECP [emergency contraceptive pill] is available without a prescription at the Student Health Center Pharmacy for women 18 years old or older with identification. For women under 18, ECP is available during nurse assessment hours, by appointment, or by phone from Women's Health Services or Primary Care Services.
Columbia University doesn't have an on-site pharmacy. The Columbia Health Service website offers information about nearby pharmacies where students can purchase Plan B. The site also states,
If students would like to obtain Plan B at a discount from one of our local pharmacies, they should first come to Medical Services to speak with one of our nurses or providers. During this visit, if there are no contraindications, you will receive a discount voucher that you can take to the pharmacy, along with instructions and education about emergency contraception. You will still be purchasing the medication from the pharmacy but at a significantly reduced cost and this will not impact or be billed to your insurance.
According to the website of Binghamton's Decker Student Health Services Center, "Emergency contraception is available at the Decker Student Health Services Center during walk-in hours from 8 to 11 a.m. or by appointment. Cost (subject to change) is $25." The website also includes links to other providers students can visit if the health center is closed.
An employee at Princeton's University Health Services told me that in order to receive Plan B there, "you have to be seen," either by making an appointment or by visiting urgent care.
The website of the Rutgers Health Services pharmacy states, "Emergency Contraception, also known as Plan B, is available to students 17 years or older without a prescription. Students younger than 17 years old must make an appointment to see a health care provider to obtain a prescription."
Plan B at Rowan is offered only through the FamCare program, which offers on-campus care on Wednesday nights and also operates an off-campus facility in Glassboro, NJ. That facility is currently open Monday through Thursday.
Even within a limited geographical area, there's a pretty wide range of Plan B availability. Plenty of institutions, though, are offering Plan B over-the-counter for students over 18 — should Ramapo choose to change its policy, it would have plenty of models.