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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

80% vote yes on bottle survey

Published: October 17, 2008
Section: News

Results of a poll conducted by the Student Union and Students for Environmental Action revealed strong support for a reduction of the sale and distribution of bottled water on campus. 1,284 students participated in the online survey, with 80% voting in favor of the proposal. The survey asked, “Recognizing the social, environmental and economic implications of bottled water, should Brandeis University reduce the sale and distribution of bottled water on campus?”

“On a professional level, I’m glad that we have this information so that the university can use student input to make a decision,” said Union President Jason Gray ‘10. “On a personal level, I’m proud that so many students are in favor of making a reduction to create a culture of conservation on this campus.”

The results of the survey were submitted to the Water Bottle Committee, a group formed by Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy in order to discuss a water bottle policy. The committee consists of five students, three faculty members and five staff members who have been meeting since early September. They have compiled a report to submit to Reinharz for his review.

Committee member Stephanie Sofer ’09 emphasized that the proposal “does not mention a complete ban of bottled water on this campus, but rather a reduction.”

She added, “reducing bottled water here is a step towards a bigger goal of creating a culture of sustainability. This is a teachable moment, and we can become more informed about the consequences of our daily decision-making. I hope that this initiative will start a dialogue and that students will think of other ways to become environmentally involved, reflect on their own lives and realize the conveniences they can do without.”

In order to mobilize students to participate in the survey, members of SEA hung banners around campus, held dorm raps to educate students about the issue, and set up polling stations in Usdan and Sherman to encourage students to vote. Ultimately, the survey had the highest voter turnout of any poll at Brandeis.

“I think that the results of the poll really stress how groundbreaking this initiative is. We’re on the cutting edge, we’re leading the way,” said SEA President Matt Schmidt ’11, adding that other institutions have commended SEA’s work and are trying to implement similar initiatives at their universities. “The results speak for themselves, and we hope that they translate to some direct policy action by this administration.”

According to Sofer, “we are the first university making this type of commitment to this magnitude. This is revolutionary.”