UCF YDSA Secures Affordable Plan B on Campus

In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Republican state governments have cracked down on local reproductive rights. In Orlando, University of Central Florida students have organized for accessible and affordable Plan B on campus.

The YDSA of University of Central Florida (UCF) entered the 2023-2024 school year with reproductive rights on the brain. Roe v. Wade had been overturned a little over a year ago and the Florida state legislature had also recently passed a law banning abortions after 10 weeks of pregnancy. And for UCF students specifically, the price of Plan B on campus was as high as $40, far from affordable for those attending Florida’s largest public university. It was clear that something had to be done—and that we had to be the ones to do it. 

UCF YDSA kicked off our chapter’s reproductive justice campaign in the fall by petitioning to get abortion on the ballot for the upcoming state elections and holding events such as a safe sex drive and a gender affirming clothing drive for trans students. We managed to achieve over 1000 signatures, securing abortion on the ballot for the 2024 state elections. 

After achieving that win, we moved on to the local problem of Plan B on campus. Not only was the price of Plan B too steep for working class students to afford, generic alternatives were generally hidden and inaccessible without prior knowledge. We wrote up a petition where we stated our demands, which involved free and accessible Plan B throughout campus via vending machines, as well as providing people with informational resources for counseling about Plan B. With our demands set and our QR codes for the petition printed, we began tabling around November of 2023.

We reached out to numerous reproductive health organizations in the Orlando area, including Stand With Abortion Now Orlando (SWAN), who helped to supply our chapter with Plan B. We distributed Plan B for free to everyone who signed the petition, usually setting up our table near the campus pharmacy. At other times, we’d table by an area with a lot of foot traffic, usually near the student union. 

Our petitioning efforts, along with our distribution of free Plan B, garnered a lot of attention, netting over 1,500 signatures. Reactions from students were mostly positive, with the only opposition being one instance where a member of Turning Point USA, an alt-right group known nationally for doxxing leftist professors, attempted to take a Plan B (rest assured, we made him sign the petition first). 

Those who stopped at our table were interested in free Plan B and the opportunity to make it more affordable, spreading word both around campus and in the broader Orlando community. Due to this attention, and a decline in sales of Plan B on campus, the UCF Pharmacy director Michael Deichen, who we saw as an important organizing target, agreed to meet with members of our chapter to discuss the issue.

UCF YDSA’s talks proved hopeful, and at our second meeting with Deichen, we were informed that, after four months of campaigning, the campus pharmacy would be lowering the generic brand of Plan B to only $6 and moving the product from behind the counter to over the counter, effective immediately. This was a massive and deeply felt win for our chapter, securing the right to affordable Plan B for the approximately 70,000 students on UCF campus. 

The pharmacy’s decision to lower the price of Plan B was a quiet one. Plan B’s cost was lowered with almost no public announcement by the pharmacy or Health Services, something that UCF YDSA has been trying to remedy since. 

Our chapter spoke to some reporters for the campus newspaper, as well as for the magazine Orlando Weekly about our win. We hope to not only inform others about the price changes but to demonstrate the power of student and community organizing and our ability to make change, even in a deeply red state like Florida.

This campaign highlights the importance and potential of student organizing, particularly around the accessibility of resources for emergency contraceptives and abortion. It demonstrates that even in a red state like Florida, effective organizing around deeply felt issues can yield change and hope for a socialist future in our lifetimes.