Vassar College’s Tap That Campaign Gains Momentum
Two weeks after the Vassar Student Association (VSA) passed a resolution banning bottled water from Vassar College’s Dining Services, the Tap That initiaive is working to further increase awareness in preparation for the Committee on College Life’s (CCL) referendum vote. Bottled Water Awareness Week was part of this initiative and corresponded with the environmental studies majors’ presentation on the adverse environmental impact of bottled water.
Tap That’s proposed referendum—which, in its current form, will ban bottled water in the Retreat, UpC and Express Lunch—certainly raised awareness. The resolution, however, still must be passed by the CCL and Dining Services before going into effect.
Regardless of whether the bottled water ban is implemented, Tap That plans to continue to raise awareness about ongoing water issues. Should the resolution be implemented, they will try to expand its scope.
“Vending machines,” Krown said, “are kind of a different monster of itself, but [banning bottled water there], that is the next logical step.” Under the current resolution, bottled water will still be sold in vending machines.
Crook mentioned that the College typically orders bottled water in large quantities for off-campus events, which is an environmental issue. She said, “We want that to be included in our referendum; it might not, so that might be a huge issue to tackle.”
Nadine Souto ’12, an intern for the College Committee on Sustainability and a member of the Vassar Greens, is positive about getting the bottled water ban to extend to campus-wide events. “Replacing bottled water with more sustainable alternatives requires creative thinking and some adjustment, but it is totally doable,” she wrote in an emailed statement. She then mentioned ongoing plans to eliminate bottled water from Founder’s Day; they are looking into getting a water truck.
While a number of those who supported the ban hope that future proposals will broaden the resolution’s scope, as of now Tap That will focus on raising awareness concerning the harmful environmental effects of bottled water. The campaign to raise general awareness on this topic is shared by other organizations, such as the Environmental Studies Department.
As a part of Bottled Water Awareness Week, environmental studies majors created a giant translucent water bottle filled with empty bottles, which was placed in the center of the Retreat for the week. This sculpture represented the plasic waste students would be saving if the referendum passes. It was also a part of Tap That’s presentation to the VSA Council.
The March 28 screening of The Waterfront was also a part of Bottled Water Awareness Week, and strove to raise further awareness on the commodification of water. The 2008 documentary chronicles the various environmental injustices surrounding water privatization and describes how a failing economy encourages neglectful environmental policy.
Environmental studies major Tristan Feldman ’12 said of the film choice, “I think we wanted to show that the issue is bigger than bottled water. And that water in general is facing more privatization.”
Anna Tweten ’12, an Environmental Studies major and Vassar Greens member, echoed Feldman’s statement, “There are always linkages between bottled water and water privatization—it’s an outgrowth of the issue.”
Regardless of CCL’s decision, and whether or not the banning of bottled water reaches its bureaucratic conclusion, the efforts of Tap That and the Environmental Studies majors have increased awareness of the harmful environmental effects of bottled water and have made this issue a campus-wide discussion.