Academic Nanny State

Both universities and elementary schools are going after bottled water, as if that were the greatest threat facing students today! At the grade and high school levels, officials are removing bottled water from vending machines and cafeterias, leading students toward drinks with calories. Of course these are fine in moderation, but why deny a healthy option like water? Students supposedly would drink from water fountains, which as I point out on are not always sanitary or appetizing.

A school in Madison, Connecticut is learning the hard way. It has recently been revealed that the water coming from one school’s water fountains has contained excess levels of uranium for a couple years. While the public health impacts are probably pretty low, people don’t want their children drinking that water. The unfortunate problem with drinking water fountains in Madison schools offers yet another example of the importance of bottled water. Tap water is generally very safe. But there are times when people would rather drink bottled water, such as in this case.

But soon many schools will deny that option! Currently, in Ontario Canada, many schools are looking into total bans on bottled water and maybe even other drinks in plastic bottles. I sure hope they are making sure their tap water is a good quality. Many school officials there complain that it comes out a rusty brown.

This week there are stories in the press regarding efforts in Missouri’s Washington University to remove bottled water as an option for students. Ironically, much of the increase in bottled water in the past several years has simply replaced drinking of caffeine and/or sugar-containing drinks. Denying the option to buy bottled water is likely to increase consumption other bottled drinks, which may add onto extra pounds that students gain during college. It will also make it more difficult for students engaged in sports to stay hydrated.

Similar university bans on bottled water are being pushed or implemented at Brandeis University; Cornell University; Brown University (RI); University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Oklahoma State University; Southwestern; Clark University (AR); the University of Texas-Southwestern; the State University of New York in Buffalo; University of California, San Diego; University of New Mexico and many more!

Denying consumers the opportunity to choose a healthy beverage on campuses or anywhere else is simply foolish and a bit frightening. After all if they continue to succeed in banning water, what will they go after next?