Leaders of the “Take Back the Tap” campaign, which aims to ban the sale of plastic water bottles on campus, recently learned that Facilities Operations and Building Services will not assist with funding bottle refilling stations at the University of Connecticut.
Sarah Hill, a fourth-semester environmental studies major and the Take Back the Tap organizer, said that Facilities Operations was previously working with the Office of Environmental Policy to pay for the installation of new refill stations.
“I think it was some of (Facilities Operations’) own money they were using to do that,” Hill said.
However, Hill said Operations Center Manager Andy Kelly told her that Facilities Operations will no longer pay for the installation of water bottle refill stations on campus.
“I had scheduled a meeting with (Kelly) and he emailed me prior to the meeting and said ‘Facilities Operations is no longer able to fund the purchase and installation of bottle filling stations at this time,’” Hill said. “(Kelly) said that he was still happy to meet but didn’t want to waste my time.”
Hill said Kelly told her that individual departments who wish to have a refill station would need to pay for it themselves, according to Kelly.
“So for example, if the biology department wanted a refill station in the bio-physics building, they’d have to pay for it themselves,” Hill said.
Hill also said there is an “extremely low chance” there will be refill stations installed in UConn dorms, which she said she sees as a bigger issue.
“The bigger issue in my mind is that the areas that really need refill stations, meaning dorm buildings and especially (dorm buildings) that don’t even have water fountains, have an extremely low chance of having them installed,” Hill said.
Hill said though she was disappointed that Facilities Operations and Building Services will not fund the installation of water bottle refill station, she understands they are not in a financial position to do so.
“I’m disappointed, but I understand that because of the budget cut they can’t afford it, and when we talked to Mr. Kelly he said that they really are at the bare minimum for what they need,” Hill said. “I am, however, upset about it because these refill stations are something students really need and it is time that UConn administration steps up.”
Hill said Take Back the Tap will continue to fight for a plastic water bottle sale ban through protests and other big events.
“Take Back the Tap is not taking this as a personal loss and we’re not stepping down,” Hill said. “Rather we see it as an opportunity and a chance to fight for what students deserve, which is equal access to clean water.”
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.