UA discusses proposal to eliminate water bottles on campus
Discussion also included workplace discrimination against LGBT people
February 11, 2013, 8:27 pm·
Sunday night, the Undergraduate Assembly considered a proposal to completely eliminate water bottles on Penn’s campus.
UA Representative and College junior Gen LaMarr LeMee introduced her plan on bottled water reduction at Penn. “Penn has a new climate action plan, and one way in which we could address that is by eliminating bottled water on campus,” she said.
LaMarr LeMee’s proposal advocated eliminating all water bottles from Penn in favor of reusable bottles and water fountains. She cited other schools’ success with the same project, like Washington University in St. Louis and the University of California, Berkeley.
College freshman and UA representative Aidan McConnell — who is the editor of The Red and the Blue, the politics blog of The Daily Pennsylvanian — offered an alternative to LaMarr LeMee’s plan. “A good alternative would be the bottled water refilling stations [like the one in Huntsman Hall]. What are the costs of installing more of these?” he said.
College sophomore Sara Allan, who is co-chair of Student Sustainability at Penn, said there are complications to McConnell’s idea.
She gave as an example several unions’ concerns with the refilling stations, but did show enthusiasm for the plan. “Really, what we want is student support, so I’m really happy that this has been brought to the UA.”
The debate came down to a question of practicality versus idealism. “My biggest concern is that this isn’t enough of an inconvenience” to just eliminate the bottles on campus, McConnell said. He pointed out that students could easily go to Wawa or CVS to buy water bottles.
McConnell then attacked the health implications of the plan. “Unfortunately, we live in one of the few cities in America where the EPA recommends that we do not drink the tap water.” Furnishing a sheaf of statistics, he provided a list of numbers, stating that Philadelphia’s tap water contained 46 animal and human medications, and that the city was ranked on Forbes’ top five most toxic cities in America.
The resolution was tabled for further discussion. LaMarr LeMee and her group plan to do more research and look for ways to make their proposal viable.
At the end, LaMarr LeMee said, “This is about making a point [about sustainability]. This is about what Amy Gutmann says Penn believes in.”
The UA meeting started off that night with Civic and Philadelphia Engagement Committee Director in the UA and Wharton sophomore Christian Cortes bringing up the topic of outlet scarcity in the Starbucks under 1920 Commons, a complaint which garnered mass support.
Another talking point of the discussion was a political advocacy idea floated by UA Representative and College sophomore Gabe Delaney. Delaney pushed the idea of having the UA advocate for an end to workplace discrimination against LGBT people.
However, UA Vice President and College and Wharton junior Abe Sutton noted that the newly instituted guidelines passed a few weeks ago would require that “the issue must affect students in their capacity on campus.”
The discussion about workplace discrimination then turned to the intricacies of Penn’s status as a federal contractor, before Cortes brought the group’s attention to the Lambda Alliance. “I think they’ve been working on this before in the past,” he said. “I think it’d be prudent to go work with Lambda on this issue.”
_Editor’s note: McConnell states that Philadelphia is one of the few cities in the country where the EPA recommends residents do not drink the tap water. In fact, the EPA recognizes all three of Philadelphia’s drinking water treatment plans. For more information regarding Philadelphia’s tap water see here.