You can thank a Student Government Association (SGA) senator for the new water filling stations coming to Pralle-Sodaro Hall’s first and third floor lounges.
Students at Chapman University rely on the multiple water bottle filling stations throughout campus for their water needs. However, only three of these water bottle filling stations are close to the nine on-campus housing buildings. On Feb. 8, SGA approved the funding to add two new stations in Pralle.
There are 17 water refill stations at the university according to Chapman’s 2016 Waste Management and Dining Services Audit. Since 2012, the only water refill stations near the residence halls are in Henley Hall basement, Panther Village, Davis Community Center, and near the Doti-Struppa Rock Wall.
The Chapman website states that it received an award as the Most Sustainable School in Orange County in 2014 by the U.S. Green Building Council. But students say the lack of sustainable water filling stations led them to buy Brita filters or water bottles, according to the 2016 Chapman Environmental Waste Audit.
Freshman Lowerclassmen SGA Senator Nicole Katz suggested adding a water-bottle filling station to Pralle after campaigning during her run for Senate in Fall 2018. She went door-to-door talking to residents, many who complained about the closest water-filling station being in Henley, she said.
“I saw a petition placed in the lobby with tons of signatures, and I knew I needed to work to provide the residents in the building what they wanted,” Katz said via email.
Residence Life and First Year Experience and the SGA split the cost of the water station, said Director of Residence Life and First Year Experience Dave Sundby. Katz reached out again in January 2019 with an estimate $100 less than initially proposed. “I think it was going to be initially close to $1,000 and it ended up being closer to like $700 or $800,” Sundby said.
There is no set date for when the refill stations will become available, but Katz guesses that students will have to wait a few weeks once the units have been purchased.
Katz said that there were past attempts to secure water refill stations, but those endeavors fell through because of the difficulties with the installation process.
“I circumvented the previous issues by finding point-of-use units that already connected to existing water supplies, which were rather inexpensive,” Katz said.
“(Facilities Management) was able to use the plumbing that already existed in the Pralle lounge to find a place for the station, which is a cheaper option than a standalone installation,” Sundby said.
“It’s hard to retrofit something that’s like five or 10 or 20 years older and make it work,” Sundby said about older dorms like Glass Hall.
Sundby said Chapman Sustainability Manager Mackenzie Crigger plans to add more refill stations.
“Her plan is that at some point to secure funding to at least do more of these where they are stalled in existing sink locations, so they’re cheaper and more accessible,” Sundby said. “She didn’t specify buildings. She didn’t specify timeline.”
Crigger declined requests for comment.
According to the 2016 Environmental audit, 64 percent of Chapman students would support a ban of single-use plastic bottles if additional soda fountains and water refill stations were installed.
“I’d love to see an overall reduction of plastic bottles through an increase in filling stations for reusable bottles and water fountains,” said Morgan Shirk, a freshman screenwriting major who totes a reusable bottle herself.
As of 2017, 85 institutions – including Harvard University, Princeton University, Cornell University, and University of California, Berkeley– have implemented campus-wide bottle bans, according to the Ban the Bottle, an organization that tracks plastic bottle bans in schools..
“Those who do not use a reusable water bottle regularly,” –about 13 percent of students– “criticized the lack of accessible water stations or a place for them to clean a personal bottle,” states the 2016 audit.
“Water should be accessible, especially more accessible in and around the dorms to encourage a more green campus,” Shirk said. “Our dorms are our living spaces.”