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.

Comments (29)
  1. Silly says:

    I thiink they want to make sure people get their overdose on flouride so they can become more docile and likely to follow orders…

    1. This Is Nuts says:

      “The schools say it saves money and the environment”

      Who’s money is it, anyway?

  2. jason says:

    Have you all forgotten that you can recycle plastic bottles? This nonsense will do nothing to curb the usage of plastic bottles. Just another attempt to control our lives.

    1. Liz says:

      Recycling bottles is better than throwing them out, but it still takes a lot of energy and increases the demand for new plastic. It’s not like they get cleaned and refilled the way soda bottles once were. Besides, there are plenty of water fountains. Generations have grown up on tap water with no ill effects. Buying water is just plain stupid.

    2. Chris Berry says:

      Restricting the sale of water bottles on campus = an “attempt to control [your] lives”? Do you hear yourself? Seriously??? That’s what you’re getting mad about is the “right to buy plastic water bottles on campus”? I think the tea party needs to lay off the caffeine they are way too cranky and riled up.

      1. jeff says:

        Well said, roommate. And I like the brackets in the quote. Clearly a good legal education under your belt…

  3. Rogue says:

    Hats off to these schools. I find it funny that the College Student Republicans are riled up that St Bens decided to stop SELLING water to the students and then provided FREE water bottle filling stations. The college is actually turning down revenue.
    As for Free Choice… “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…” – The school is not preventing the students from ever purchasing bottled water. The school is like a restaurant that decides to sell Coke instead of Pepsi, or a steakhouse that doesn’t serve veggie burgers.

  4. Otto says:

    You know what, nobody’s free will or choice has been violated here. The schools just decided not to sell bottled water. It’s a business decision, period!

    As for the College Republicans, it looks like the next batch of MB’s are getting an early start

  5. Scott says:

    Well, In my humble opinion, the students that want the option of buying bottled water on base pay just as much in tuition as the ones that don’t want bottled water. So shouldn’t their concerns be addressed. No one is forcing anyone who doesn’t want to buy bottled water to buy it.

  6. ReaVoiceOfReason says:

    This is a step in the correct direction. We lived without bottled water for years, and then some Big Business found a way make dumb consumers to pay for something the is and was relatively free for years. SUCKERS! Anyone who complains are the people we all need to watch out for…Idiocracy is their way…not mine.

  7. Daniel says:

    Good for them! No rights have been taking away. They are just not going to sell bottled water. This is a great move.

  8. Elspeth says:

    “Pitchers of water are also passed out at sporting events”

    Gee…I can just about hear the local TRIAL LAWYERS just salivating over this one. Wait until the school sporting events become illness hotbeds because they are passing around unsanitary “Pitchers of water” at sporting events for the fans.

    Cha-Ching! The school couldn’t have possibly asked their legal counsel about this one or if they did, they ignored the advice given.

    1. Michael says:

      By the way, the football games are held at St. John’s campus where you can still buy bottled water and besides there’s always a risk for getting sick at any event. And why would they pass around unsanitary pitchers, wasn’t it at Target field just last month that they had pitchers and tubs of water for anyone who wanted some? How many of those people got sick?

  9. Suzanne says:

    They should also ban pop in plastic bottles.

  10. Tim W. says:

    And I bet the stores on school grounds all sell reuseable bottles with school logo’s………..

  11. suzie says:

    schools that did this elsewhere have shown that when bottled water is not available soda and tea sales increase keeping the pouring rights from soda companies coming in. The dietitians are against it as it increases the freshman 15 and only encourages bad choices for those that choose a bottled beverage. Nothing is said about staff and professors who also seem to lose a voice in this and not given a choice or a water bottle. Colleges that have had the ban have listened to the risk management folks and have chose to provide bottled water at large events and reunions due to risk, we will see what this college does down the line. they didnt mention vending machines…

  12. Anon says:

    Homeland security at it again!

  13. VikingBerserker says:

    Hey, if the idiots want to pay $1.00 for 16oz of water, the same water you get out of a faucet for .$0.005 a gallon.

    Like the saying goes, and idiot and his money are soon parted.

  14. John says:

    Yup republicans standing up for freedom of choice. Unless of course, we’re talking about a uterus or sexual orientation…

  15. jennifer says:

    It’s only a controversy if that’s the headline you choose.

  16. Patrick Roanhouse says:

    How am not surprised its a batch of Ayn Rand spouting Alex P Keaton living-parodying “College Republican” following with being stereotypical A-holes. I bet next they will be walking around with O2 tanks saying lets sell them air too!

  17. Sachchit says:

    So, “freedom of choice” should force private colleges to sell certain products in their facilities, and should also establish the new right to buy whatever form of light bulb you want. Also, probably, “freedom of choice” should keep the government out of the decisions of whether or not you and your children should wear a seat belt, which inoculations are REALLY necessary, and what discriminatory basis you’d like to apply in hiring for your business — because government really has no interest in these areas.

    But there is an absolute imperative that overrides all other concerns or silly “choice” or “privacy” rights in making sure that, preferably, government has a say over what medical services a woman can choose to receive (or receive as a life-saving measure) or, as a fallback, that government should mandate psychologically coercive steps to convince her that there is only one moral option. The government also, obviously, has an interest in limiting the people to whom you can choose to make a legally recognized life commitment. Oh yes, and where you can choose to construct your house of worship or community/cultural center.

    Who really cares about individual privacy, strong family units or the freedom of ALL religion anymore anyway? This is the world of Facebook and Twitter, 50% divorce and terrorism so, “obvs”, these things are just so 20th Century.

    Got it – no dissonance or incongruity whatsoever.

  18. David Zetland says:

    This is a stupid idea. People are not forced to use bottled water. If you want to SAVE students from themselves and the environment from plastic bottles, then why not bad soft drinks? Sounds stupid? Yeah, that’s my point.

  19. Alice says:

    Chatham University in Pittsburgh got rid of bottled water — they put water stations all over campus and gave everyone re-usable water bottles. It reminds me of Italy, where there were free public fountains everywhere.

    When did the capacity to purchase things become the hallmark of our humanity?

  20. Lesley says:

    I’m surprised that this issue is causing such a debate. I agree with the colleges’ perspective. The students seem to have selfish reasons for fighting against this issue. Limits your choices? Takes away your freedom? That’s just silly. There are bigger fish to fry. It’s not like these colleges are taking away water completely! This article (http://www.everblue.edu/blog/college-campuses-ban-bottled-water) talks about how colleges are implementing hydration stations throughout campus, thereby allowing college students access to the clean water they so badly crave! Come on, folks. Sustainability is a good thing. It’s beneficial for all.

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