St. Olaf students ‘Take Back the Tap’
Students at St. Olaf College will soon be taking a few extra trips to the water fountain — and they couldn’t be more excited about it.
The student-run Take Back the Tap initiative, spearheaded by leaders from the St. Olaf Environmental Coalition, has collaborated with the college and its food-service provider, Bon Appetit, to dramatically reduce the sale and distribution of bottled water on campus.
“We are so excited about these changes on campus,” says Cassie Paulsen ’15, one of the Take Back the Tap leaders. “Not only is this a great example of our college putting ideals to action, but it is something the student body truly cares about.”
Last year, after a campus-wide campaign by Take Back the Tap, the student body voted in support of eliminating the sale and distribution of bottled water on campus. The referendum passed with 86 percent of student voters supporting the idea.
Recognizing that the move supports the college’s sustainability efforts, administrators began working closely with Take Back the Tap leaders to dramatically reduce bottled water on campus.
While the college will retain the sale and distribution of bottled water at the St. Olaf Bookstore and at some catered events, the following changes will occur this spring, throughout the summer, and into the coming year:
Beginning this summer, bottled water will no longer be available in the vending machines.
Bon Appetit will remove bottled water from the bagged lunch line and for sale in the Cage.
There will be no bottled water under the chairs of graduating seniors and faculty attending Commencement this year. There will instead be a common water source for all guests to use in filling their own water bottles.
The college will begin a process of installing filtered water dispensers in bathrooms in residence halls and academic buildings on campus, with the intention of installing them in every bathroom as budgets and time allow.
Students involved in the Take Back the Tap campaign will continue to work toward finding alternatives to bottled water at other campus events as well. “We want to continue an education campaign for students, faculty, and staff about why bottled water is not a wise commodity for social justice, economic, and environmental reasons,” says Sonja Helgeson ’15.