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Monday, May 25, 2020

Flavored water on campus in the works to be banned

The Western Associated Students voted to ban the sale of flavored water bottles on campus in a 6-0 vote.

This new proposal passed on Wednesday, June 3,  defines flavored water and bans the purchase or distribution of single-use water bottles, said Trisha Patterson, public relations chair for Students for Sustainable Water. The policy defines flavored water as brands such as Propel, Flavorsplash and VitaminWater or any other water with added flavor.

AS Vice President for academic affairs Jaleesa Smiley was not present during the vote.

“I’m just happy we extended the policy to include a ban on flavored water bottles,” AS President Annika Wolters said at the end of the meeting Wednesday.

The previous water bottle initiative with dining services and the new proposal passed by the AS does not take effect until the Board of Trustees passes it, Patterson said. The purpose of the vote Wednesday was to show support for the policy and make a stronger case to the Board of Trustees when they present it, she said.

The water bottle initiative that was created prior to the policy  passed Wednesday was merely a “handshake” between dining services and the university, Patterson said.  The AS vote in support of this proposal is the next step in codifying it into university policy.

AS Vice President for Student Life Zach Dugovich and Patterson will present this proposal to the Board of Trustees for a vote to codify it into Western policy, though a date has not been confirmed. The process with the Board of Trustees could take a while and they may change parts of the proposal, so it’s not clear when the policy will take effect, Patterson said.

Last year, dining services and the AS coordinated an initiative to eliminate single-use plastic water bottles on campus, Patterson said. However, bottled water is still sold at several events on campus and flavored water is being sold in vending machines and markets, Patterson said.

Carbonated drinks, Gatorade and other flavored sports drinks would be exempt from this ban, Patterson said. A sports drink, as defined by the policy, is any flavored drink designed for consumption during “strenuous exercise,” and has ingredients such as sodium, electrolytes, potassium, chloride and sugar.

Western senior Jennifer Ngo said she feels the proposal is unfair to students who don’t have refillable water bottles and she doesn’t support the proposal because of this.

“I guess I’m kind of against that because soda is even worse for you than flavored water, it’s not healthy,” Ngo said.

Ten percent of all on-campus sales prior to the ban came from water bottles, University Director of Residences Leonard Jones said. Since the ban, revenue has been impacted by 10 percent, and students are not buying other beverages in place of water, he said.

Jones said there was a $13,000 shortfall in beverage sales this academic year. Revenue from university dining sales assists necessary programs at Western which impact students such as athletics and the tutoring center, Jones said.

Freshman Rebecca Sharp, however, agrees with the proposal, and said it should be a message any school should promote.

“There are so many things going wrong with our environment, I think that should be common sense at this point,” she said.

Bottled water creates a tremendous amount of waste in the environment, Dugovich said, and in the Pacific Northwest where access to clean water is abundant, using bottled water doesn’t make sense, he added.

However, Dugovich said it’s up to students what they want to drink.

“It doesn’t really provide much of a rational, but the bottom line is that these are huge revenue builders for the university,” Dugovich said. “We’re not in the business of necessarily deciding for consumers what they can and can’t drink.”

This policy would ban all types of bottled water for campus events, but still allow for it to be stored for emergencies.

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