In a flyer released this week, Dining Services announced its decision to stop the sale of energy drinks on campus. The policy will take effect on March 7, 2016. Beverages such as Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy will no longer be available for purchase at any of the College’s retail locations. These locations include Midd Express, Wilson Café and The Grille. Guayaki Brand Yerba Mate, regarded as a healthier alternative to the previously identified energy drinks, will remain available for purchase.
The decision marked the culmination of a debate that began on Jan. 19, when Dining Software Intern Myles Kamisher-Koch introduced the topic in a Community Council meeting. In this meeting, Kamisher-Koch asserted that several Dining Services staff members approved of his proposal.
By presenting scientific research to demonstrate the several detrimental health effects of energy drinks, Kamisher-Koch ultimately argued that the sale of energy drinks violates Dining Services’ mission, stated on the College’s website, to “nourish and nurture today and tomorrow by sustaining mind, body and earth.” Kamisher-Koch’s data included a study finding that “up to 25 percent of current drinkers combine alcoholic beverages with energy drinks.” He also included reports that energy drinks promote poor academic tendencies and foster a “culture of stress.”
These concerns that Kamisher-Koch raised in his initial presentation appear to coincide with the opinions of several students on campus. “I learned in my psychology class that energy drinks are linked to high risk sex and drug use,” Jenna McNicholas ’19 said. Meg Knox ’19 agreed.
“The school has a responsibility to direct students to healthy choices through what they provide,” Knox said.
Opposition to this proposal in Community Council debate came mainly from students who believed the removal of energy drinks from campus shelves would violate a student’s right to choose what beverages they consume. Charles Rainey ’19 voiced his concern that this measure would lead to Dining Services “controlling what people consume,” and argued that he and others drink energy drinks responsibly, adding that the removal of the drinks from campus stores was too extreme a means of promoting student well-being.
However, those in support of the policy contended that Rainey’s concern was not a grave one. Fiona Mohamed ’18 stressed that the school would not be banning the consumption of energy drinks, but would be merely stopping their sale in retail locations on campus. Participants reminded those concerned with the change that they could buy the drinks at multiple retail locations situated close to campus.
Community Council held a vote on Kamisher-Koch’s recommendation on Tuedsay, Feb. 2. The proposal was approved 11 to 1, and Dining Services decided to adopt the resolution.
Dining Services’ flyer, signed by Executive Director of Food Service Dan Detora, echoes the Community Council’s sentiment. The flyer mentions scientific literature revealing a connection between energy drinks and unsafe behavior in young people, including “increased alcohol consumption, increased likelihood to drive while intoxicated, increased probability of use of other intoxicating substance and increased participation in high-risk sexual activity.” The flyer also restates Kamisher-Koch’s argument that the sale of energy drinks violates Dining Services mission, since, as the flyer reads, “consuming these products may result in serious health related issues such as; cardiovascular events, seizures and liver damage.”