Reporting Jamie Yuccas
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – What some are drinking on a Minnesota college campus is creating controversy and it has nothing to do with alcohol.
Nine campuses across the nation and two in Minnesota have banned the sale of plastic water bottles.
Macalester and St. Benedict College both banned plastic water bottles from being sold.
While students can still bring bottles onto campus, they’re encouraged to use reusable ones. The schools say it saves money and the environment, while some students say it limits their choices.
Bottles of water were handed out at the College of St. Benedict on Tuesday, not necessarily to quench students’ thirst, but to swallow a group’s message.
Student republicans are unhappy with the school’s choice to ban the sale of plastic water bottles.
“A little bit goes along the line of free choice. For us, that’s a big principle, in College Republicans is that you can’t really delegate to students what they can and cannot do in their own free will,” said Caitlyn Spence, chair of the St. Benedict Republicans.
Other students aren’t taking it quite the same way.
“I think it’s kinda silly,” Senior Kate Ulrich said. “I just tried to avoid them because I didn’t want a bottled water. I have my own bottled water.”
It’s not that the school doesn’t want students to have access to water. They’ve actually installed 31 hydration stations across campus allowing everyone to refill whatever bottle they have.
“The policy does not say that students can’t have bottled water. We’re not going to sell it in the bookstore or dining facilities here and we’re not going to use college funds to purchase bottled watered, but we’re not saying to students, they can’t drink bottled water, it’s their right,” Judy Purman, director of sustainability, said.
A choice students in favor of plastic water bottles say many visitors to campus may not know about.
“Parents come to visit, we have a big family weekend, Johnny games, everybody is on campus, it’s crawling with visitors all the time and it’s like, there’s no water for them,” Spence said. “So it’s like they didn’t bring anything up, they don’t have anything to drink and there isn’t water available to them.”
St. Ben’s said getting the message out to visitors was initially a problem, but it’s trying to be very vocal about the policy during admissions. Pitchers of water are also passed out at sporting events.
Each station has a counter that’s used to count how many plastic bottles would be used to fill up these bottles. Students that use them say they definitely see savings.