So this is essentially copied from a note I wrote letting my friends in on WHY I was in a little video on our local news station. At the heart of it, this is not about one political party against another. It’s just about water. That’s all.
A “blink and you miss it” moment: Apparently I made a tiny appearance in the 5pm news on Kare11
As an administrator, I don’t always stay current with the buzz on campus. But luckily, today I found out via Twitter that the @CSBSJUCRS (Campus Republicans) were handing out bottles of water at the bus stops, protesting the campus-wide ban on the sale of water bottles(*). I started simmering right from the get-go. So far, the ban on water bottles has been widely accepted and students, administrators and guests I have encountered have had nothing but praise for the new water fountains and “hydration stations” that have popped up all over campus.
After some mulling on the issue and some support from my co-workers, I approached College Republicans to ask just WHY they were protesting the ban. To me (and obviously the CSB campus) access to clean drinking water is a basic human right and is a part of the Benedictine value of hospitality. All are welcome to freely drink the clean, cold water from the drinking fountains and fill up their glasses/mugs/water bottles from taps or hydration stations. Another aspect that was also making me so upset was that this group turned the campus-wide ban into a partisan issue, when it’s clearly not. I wanted to know why the Republican group was putting this on their agenda, when there are more apropos issues they could be concentrating on. To me, they were stirring the pot for no apparent reason besides garnering a spot on the evening news.
After talking with the CRs, what it came down to was that I didn’t really get an answer. The young man I spoke with (I unfortunately forgot his name) said that this was really about free-market principles. That the campus can’t tell students what they can and cannot buy. That if we keep demanding water bottles with less and less plastic, the entire WORLD will eventually be able to buy water bottles with 1/2 the plastic from places like Target. That last bit didn’t really make sense to me, and overall, it just didn’t add up. Of course campus has the right to stock or not stock items and tell students what they can/cannot buy! Campus can choose to not buy and distribute Gatorade, candy bars, or Diet Coke (it’s almost NEVER available on campus when I’d like a can!) or certain books, clothing items, food, etc.– SURELY they have the right to do away with bottled water.
Then he went on to say that the sale of water directly funneled into scholarships. Why yes, 100% of sales from the bookstores (of which some sales are probably bottles of water) DO go toward student scholarships. However, I don’t think doing away with bottled water will impact a young woman’s financial chances of attending this college. In fact, the college actually sells REUSABLE water bottles for $4.99, thereby making a profit off of those people who would like a reusable container. The new hydration stations that were installed this year will be paid off by the end of this year because they make up for the cost of buying and maintaining stock in water bottles and running the refrigerators to cool them. As an aside, as an alum who DONATES to scholarship funds, I am MUCH more likely to give money to my alma mater when they spearhead innovative efforts like this ban. I made it a point to tell him that I will most definitely make sure that my donations stay CLEAR of any affiliation with groups like his.
All in all, if these students DO have an issue, they can march right over to SJU and buy their precious bottled water. I am very proud of CSB for having the heart and compassion to implement this ban and to consider the rights of its guests, students, and community members. I am delighted to work for a department that spearheaded the ban on water bottles(**).
*Here is a document that briefly and clearly outlines WHY CSB made the decision to ban the sale of water bottles — CSB Water Bottle Policy
**FAP does not give bottled water to guest artists or performers. Instead, we give them reusable bottles as a gift and ask that they fill up from a cooler of water backstage or at one of the many hydration stations in the BAC. Pretty neat, huh?
++ I LOVE the comments on THIS article about the protest