Environmental friendliness and clean water are what Emily Thomas and Ted Sakellariou strived to maintain when advocating for hydration stations in residential halls. As a result of their efforts, students who live in Patapsco, Susquehanna, Chesapeake, and Harbor residence halls will have access to automated hydration stations in their lobbies by Fall 2017.
Thomas, a sophomore political science major, went on the SGA Retreat in August where they did a simulation for a hydration station project. Thomas stated, “I am passionate about hydration, and anyone who knows me knows that I drink a lot of water and I care about the environment. Many of my peers will walk to The Commons to fill up their water bottles due to the lack of facilities to support a water bottle to be filled up.”
Thomas started the initiative in September of 2016 and brought Sakellariou on board in October of 2016. They assumed responsibility of this project and expanded their influence to others on campus. After meeting with Residential Life in November 2016, Residential Life agreed to this collaboration to fund the project for all residential halls.
Thomas spoke to SGA Senate about their initiative to receive feedback and stated their concerns about why this project is important. Many of the co-senators shared similar feelings towards the need for accessible hydration with regular use.
SGA Senate had agreed that residential students should have access to clean, filtered water for regular consumption, instead of relying on plastic water bottles that are extremely detrimental to the environment. Thomas and Sakellariou released a survey to the public about hydration stations, and received overwhelmingly positive responses to this project.
At first, Residential Life’s plan was to install hydration stations in the next ten years, something that Thomas found ridiculous “… as the UMBC residential population grows so will the need for hydration stations. The current facilities are not supported for a larger student population in regards to water drinking.”
“After convincing Facilities Management, and Res Life about our initiative, they had agreed to install hydration stations in all residential halls on campus,” Thomas went on. There were many logistics that needed to be addressed for this initiative, as well as several meetings with Facilities Management and Residential Life.
This initiative is important for multiple reasons, according to Sakellariou and Thomas. Sakellariou stated that students will be encouraged to drink more water and that having a refillable water bottle reduces the need for plastic water bottles on campus.
“Instead of buying a 30 pack of plastic water bottles, students can now just refill one or more reusable water bottles at the Hydration Stations,” Sakellariou stated. This saves students money through simply refilling their water bottle instead of buying bottled water. Additionally, it “…increases students health, environmental friendliness on campus and increased accessibility to water instead of plastic bottles.”
“We got our support straight from the UMBC population. It is a SGA senators job to look at what students on campus want to change, and then to make that change happen,” Sakellariou stated.