It wasn’t so long ago that finding a water fountain on campus was more difficult than it seemed. Fountains were few and far between, many stopped working and never got fixed, and others were hidden away and hard to find. Soon enough, the only option for water was from a vending machine – and it wasn’t cheap. At nearly $2.00 per bottle, it soon became clear that something had to change – after all, it was unfair to have to pay for something that should always be free.
As part of our mandate, the RSU works to promote and advocate for more sustainable practices throughout the University community and as part of the broader student movement.
At the November 2009 Annual General Meeting, members of the RSU voted overwhelmingly in favor of creating a campaign that would call on the University administration to make Ryerson a bottled water free campus. Recognizing the need to re-invest in public water infrastructure, students worked together to launch the bottled water free campaign; a campaign to fight back against the corporatization of water, a basic human right, and advocate for free, public drinking water on campus.
Following campus-wide consultations, the President of the University, Sheldon Levy, and the Presidents of RSU and CESAR came together to sign the Ryerson Water Pledge – a commitment to progressively eliminate the sale of bottled water on campus by September 2013. The pledge also commits the University to update water infrastructure, such as fountains and fill-stations, needed for students, staff, and faculty to access clean drinking water on campus. The pledge was signed on March 11, 2010 – the first Bottled Water Free Day in Canada. Ryerson was the first campus in Ontario and fourth in Canada to make such a commitment.
Since signing the pledge, we have been working to mobilize our members around the campaign. We joined other students' unions across the country in singing an orientation pledge to ensure that all of our orientation week activities, including our annual Parade and Picnic concert, are bottled water free. We made changes to our own policies to provide free tap water at all events, installed water refill stations in the Student Centre, offer free water bottle refills in Oakham Café and the Ram in the Rye, and provide over 3000 free reusable water bottles at our events throughout the year.
March 18, 2013 marks the third Bottled Water Free Day in Canada, and we invite you to celebrate with us the three-year anniversary of the water pledge and join us in making Ryerson bottled water free.
To get involved in the campaign, join the Sustainability Committee – an open group that meets to discuss and organize around environmental issues on campus.