"Machines Assist in Condom Distribution:
Purchase is Convenient, Discreet"

by Norman Weiss, Daily Californian, 5 March 1997

Hoping to make it easier for bashful UC Berkeley dormitory residents to obtain birth control devices, three residence hall associations have voted to install condom-dispensing machines.

The halls — Putnam, Cheney, and Deutsch, of the Unit 1 residence hall complex — will pay $130 each for the condom machines. As part of an effort by health workers throughout the dormitory system, most other residence hall associations are set to consider similar proposals in the near future.

According to Bob Jacobs, the director of Housing and Dining Services, there used to be condom machines in the lobbies of residence halls between the late 1980s and the early 1990s. He said that the company stopped providing the service because of extensive vandalism to the machines.

"They installed what they considered really heavy-duty machines, but (the machines) were defaced and ripped off the walls," Jacobs said.

He added that he was happy that the hall association was paying for them and that there was a company willing to provide them. He said that Housing and Dining does not presently oppose the plan.

The condoms are expected to cost between 15 and 50 cents, depending on how fast each hall association wants to pay the machine off.

Scott Trimble, a health worker in Freeborn Hall, hatched the idea for condom-dispensing machines last year as a solution to the problem of anonymous condom distribution.

"Many residents are shy," said Trimble. "Condom machines are an alternative that people could use. They could use it late at night, when drug stores are closed and everyone is asleep. This provides for another means for you to get condoms — in the building."

The machines will provide a combination of Arouse, Climax, Lifestyles, or Skintight brand condoms, based on the preference of each hall. Each machine holds a capacity of 160 condoms.

It has not been decided where the machines will be placed. One of the likely spots, according to Trimble, is the kitchen on the ground floor of the high-rise residence hall. There is less support for putting the condoms in the men's bathroom because female residents will not have access to them. There is also the possibility of having the condom machines placed next to the soda and snack machines.

Trimble said that he has received some complaints from residents who were concerned about the installation of the machines.

Jennifer Austin, one of the residents of Deutsch Hall, who voted in favor of funding the vending machines, saw innumerable benefits in the dispensers.

"It's easier, less embarrassing, and more convenient," said Austin.

But for Jennifer Gong, a Deutsch resident who voted against the machine proposal, there were concerns over the cost of paying for something that was already free.

"I felt like we already have them," she said. "They could just put it in the bathroom to save money."

According to Trimble, the machines should be in place as soon as three weeks from now.

©1997 Daily Californian