Charles Everist defends people's choice to drink bottled water in response to a University of Melbourne ban on its sale:
I never thought I’d be defending bottled water. But if they try and take it away from you, I’ll defend your right!
Last year the Univeristy of Melbourne announced it would stop selling bottled water at its Southbank campus in a bid to reduce its environmental footprint. The university has installed 10 new drinking fountains instead.
The university seeks to ban a completely legal and legitimate product and the next wave in the tyrannical sea of socialism is heading for Parkville.
In O-Week 2012, thousands of eager first years will be given free reuseable bottles to use during their academic career in the interest of the environment and their hip-pocket.
A university website promoting its campaign states students ‘can help Parkville to become a bottled-water free campus…’ and also claims “bottled water is damaging to the environment as is a waste of your money”.
It is not the University’s business to tell students how they should lead their own lives and what products they should buy. Universities shouldn’t be making quasi-policy decisions that inhibit freedom and consumer choice on campus.
There are many people who take preference for bottled water, their reasons for doing so are their own and are neither correct nor incorrect.
The great Austrian philosopher and economist von Hayek argued:
Knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess.
Here we see the core issue. Decisions of what is best and what is in the interest of all can not rest with a committee of university bureaucrats, but with the day-to-day actions and interactions between students and the services the university provides.
There are many food and drink outlets at Parkville campus and their owners have made a conscious decision to sell bottled water because they too recognise a demand. Students can not simply purchase water off campus in between a tutorial and a lecture. But they can call into a store en-route and quench their thirst there and then.
Apart from the moral disillusion I feel towards the University’s campaign, there is also the issue of wasted money.
Instead of allowing students and staff to buy bottled water at no cost to the university, water fountains will be installed around campus on every corner. The people ultimately paying for these bubblers and all similar environmental programs will be students through their fees and the taxes paid by many who never had the chance to take up higher education.
Melbourne’s vice-chancellor Prof. Glyn Davis has stated that ‘as a public-spirited university, Melbourne is committed to promoting sustainability through its research and education programs’. Such reseach and education programs should not be in the form of a centrally imposed policy, which restricts choice on campus.
Melbourne University’s campaign is yet another case of an intelligensia telling people they know best. If they take away bottled water, they can just as easilly take away beer and fatty pizza, the stuff students are made of!
Lets hope this cancer doesn’t keep spreading…
Charles is a second year politics student at Melbourne University and has an acquired thirst for freedom