College Republicans protest water bottle ban

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 13, 2011 - 9:55 PM

Group hands out bottled water at College of St. Benedict.

College Republicans passed out bottled water to passers-by Tuesday in protest of the College of St. Benedict's new ban on bottled water in campus vending machines, cafeterias and sporting events. The protesters said they aren't against sustainability but are defending the free-market system.

"Just as the government should not ban plastic bottles in America, a school administration should not ban the sale of plastic water bottles on their campus," said Ryan Lyk, chairman of the Minnesota College Republicans, in a statement.

This fall, St. Ben's became the first school in the state -- and the ninth in the nation -- to ban the sale of plain bottled water on campus. Macalester took a similar step Sept. 1.

Students can buy bottled water off campus and bring it to class.

The protesters' release points out that St. Ben's 31 new "hydration stations" cost money to install. The college spent $20,000 on them, hoping to make it easier for students to refill reusable water bottles. In the long run, college officials said, they expect the ban to save money.

But that expense is just one part of the problem, said Kate Paul, a St. Ben's student and a Minnesota College Republicans leader. Her statement: "The hydration stations not only cost us money to use, they are costing us our ability to choose and convenience that derives from choice."

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

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