University Senate committee supports bottle ban

University advocates against distributing bottled water on campus cleared one more obstacle last Wednesday night, obtaining the most support a nonacademic matter needs to receive from the University Senate to become policy.

University Senate President Nathan Tublitz, also a biology professor, wrote a letter last Wednesday on behalf of the Senate’s Executive Committee — made up of the Senate president, vice president, treasurer, etc. — which formally encourages University administrators to turn the proposal into a draft policy.

“The Senate Executive Committee urges the administration to support this proposal,” Tublitz wrote. “And to quickly initiate the process for this proposal to become official
University policy.”

Tublitz said it was important to note that the letter was more than just his thoughts. The entire committee was strongly behind the proposal.

“The students who presented this, Emma Newman and Zachary Stark-MacMillan, gave an excellent and convincing presentation about the utility of this proposal,” Tublitz said.
Take Back the Tap co-coordinator Manny Garcia, a University freshman, said he’s been encouraged by the progress so far.

“Things are just going smoothly. The administration does support us,” Garcia said. “Things are going pretty well. We just have to navigate bureaucracy at this point.”

Tublitz said that the ban does have to return to the committee for further discussion before becoming University policy.

“We’re supporting the concept, which is a proposal. It has to turn into a policy,” Tublitz said. “Sometimes, proposals become slightly altered because of that process.”

The proposal originally came from Take Back the Tap, one of the Climate Justice League’s three campaigns and the one that showed the earliest signs of success.

Proponents argued in their report and complementary presentation that the amount of bottled water consumed on campus is startling and recommended that a policy that prohibited the sale, purchase or distribution of one-use plastic water bottles anywhere on campus.

Tublitz’s recommendation is merely the most recent of positive developments for the group. Members received approval first from the University Environmental Issues Committee, an influential campus body that “was enthusiastic in its support for this effort.”

The proposal then had a presentation and discussion with administrators in Vice President of Finance and Administration Frances Dyke’s office. Though supportive, meeting attendees wanted to ensure the entire Senate had a voice in deciding the issue.

Supporters were originally concerned about the proposal getting University Senate attention because the Senate’s meeting agenda has become booked for all meetings until October. The Senate does not meet during the summer.

But because the policy banning bottled water sales on campus is not enough of an academic matter, only the Executive Committee needed to voice opinion on it.
Now Dyke, Senior Vice President and Provost Jim Bean and University President Richard Lariviere have the proposal in front of them with the full support of the key members of the University Senate.

If the proposal does go through, there are a couple of items to note. The University does have a contract with PepsiCo Inc. that will continue until 2012, but Garcia said the company had been more lenient in renegotiation than Coca-Cola Co. in the past.
Further, Garcia said the CJL will be working to assist more as implementation takes place, but the group doesn’t have specific plans yet.

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