April 18, 2011

Letter to the Editor: Taking back the dialogue (and the tap)

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To the Editor:

Re: “Fate of Take Back the Tap Unclear,” News, April 6

In response to “Fate of Take Back the Tap Unclear” and the formation of the Take Back the Tap Task Force, the Take Back the Tap student organization would like to clarify its role in moving forward with this initiative.

The passage of Student Assembly Resolution 35 last fall helped to strengthen the efforts of our student organization by forming the President’s Sustainable Campus Committee Take Back the Tap Task Force. Take Back the Tap is committed to illuminating the fallacies of bottled water’s perceived superior quality over tap water and to highlighting the environmental implications associated with the reliance upon petroleum-based products, the fossil fuels needed to transport water, the inefficiencies of recycling and, overall, the systemic problem of single-use products. While working with the new administrative task force, we are continuing our independent efforts to reduce bottled water consumption and to improve tap water infrastructure on campus, as we have done since since spring 2009.

Past speculation about large fees for infrastructure improvement and elimination of bottled water revenue being passed directly to students are wildly inaccurate. The costs associated with phasing out bottled water and improving infrastructure and the manner in which these costs would be distributed are unknown at this time, according to Cornell administrators. However, it should be emphasized that increasing consumption of tap water on campus, a very inexpensive and high quality public resource, also presents opportunities for the University to reduce internal costs.

President Skorton made a significant commitment to sustainability by signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007, and we see the Take Back the Tap initiative as an important step in accomplishing the University’s goals for sustainability. We wish to provide more sustainable choices for drinking water on campus, rather than to restrict students’ options.

Kristen Loria ’11

President, Take Back the Tap