In previous years, Santa Clara used over 3000 individual single-use plastic bottles for Commencement ceremonies. This year, that is not the case. SCU is joining a growing number of schools to celebrate Commencement without single-use bottled water.
Graduation is a pinnacle for many SCU students, friends and family. While planning Commencement sans bottled water, it was important that the reputation and integrity of past commencements be upheld. It is exciting and progressive that SCU will be holding our first bottled water free graduation while maintaining the University’s values and character.
As an alternative to bottled water, all graduates and stage members will be given a reusable bottle. The largest events are Undergraduate Commencement and the Alumni Picnic, taking place at Buck Shaw Stadium and Bellomy Field. Guests are encouraged to bring their own reusable bottle to the ceremony, where they will be able to fill up at the various refilling stations. There will also be compostable cups for those who do not have their own bottle.
This decision was inspired by the Think Outside the Bottle campaign on campus, a student group that promotes public water systems over corporations that privatize and bottle water. In the United States, public water systems face a $23 billion investment gap annually compared to the bottled water industry. Marketing by bottled water companies has damaged people’s confidence in tap water, even though bottled water is far less regulated and often comes from municipal sources (tap water) anyway.
There is a growing trend of U.S. colleges and universities reducing bottled water sale and distribution on their campuses. During this year’s graduation season, many additional colleges and universities will be hosting Bottled Water Free Commencements, including Mount Holyoke, Sewanee University of the South, and Oberlin College. Public health, environmental concerns and the human right to water are all reasons why students and universities across the nation are taking a stand and supporting the human right to water over private gain.
By hosting bottled water free Commencement ceremonies, SCU is drastically reducing our waste, as well as promoting the need to reinvest in our public water systems. Not to mention, we are one of the first universities in California to do so! This move shows Santa Clara’s integrity and responsibility to uphold our sustainability and social justice values, as well as our commitment to zero-waste and Climate Neutrality.
Contributed by Kelsey Baker '14, Sustainability Intern, Communications