Sept. 15, 2014
“Will you get me a water while you’re inside?”
That’s what my six-month pregnant wife asked me as I made my way toward the UCCS bookstore. I obliged and ran in, at the same time looking for the school supplies I would need for the coming semester when I made this startling discovery.
The sale of bottled water on campus has been eliminated as part of the new “Bring Your Own Bottle” program.
A new initiative designed to help the campus go green, in the process it left me with the unsavory task of telling a thirsty, six-month pregnant woman that she would have to go without water for the car ride home.
Later, I reflected on the program and wondered whether or not removing the decision from students was a step too far in the name of deciding what is best for the campus and environment.
Conservation efforts and programs to help the environment on campus are for the most part great. They provide excellent and efficient ways for students and staff to do their part to help.
In theory, the act of removing bottled water is a fantastic idea to both reduce waste and save students money.
The problem with theories is that they often don’t take variables into account.
What about the student who leaves his water bottle at home? If they have a long day of classes ahead of them, they have three choices for hydration.
First, they could go without any attainable form of self-contained water, sneaking in quick sips between classes that every medical expert says isn’t a tenth of what you should be drinking throughout the day.
Second, they could buy a sugary bottled drink (still for sale on campus) and dump or drink the unhealthy contents to create a makeshift water bottle. Forced into making a purchase that they did not want to make, they create the same amount of waste in the process.
Or lastly, they could shell out $15 to $25 to buy a new bottle, which would likely only be used once by the student before bringing their bottle from home next time.
As unfortunate as these choices are, my main complaint with this program is that it has effectively taken away the right of the student to decide whether or not to buy a bottle of water.
Malcom Van Zoeren, a freshman business major, believes in the policy.
“I feel that it’s fair,” Van Zoeren said. “You can get bottles for water all over the campus and it’s good for the environment, as well as the fact that [UCCS] offers free water through the water fountains.”
In contrast, Paxton Kincaid, a sophomore psychology major, believes that the choice should be hers.
“At lunch, if I don’t want a soda and I didn’t bring a water bottle, I want to be able to buy some water,” Kincaid said.
College is the first step into the real world for many young adults. Telling them what they can and cannot do with something as simple as buying water is setting them up for disappointment.