Whispers’ water cups removed to prevent water damage
Many students are confused by the disappearance of the free water cups.
“[It’s] a little bit annoying, because now, when you are in a rush and you forgot your water bottle, you can’t get water,” sophomore David Glaubke said.
Though students may be inconvenienced by the change, most don’t know the reason behind it.
The cups often left water marks on the library’s wooden tables that caused damage such as discoloration, bubbling and uneven texture.
Olin Library administrators asked Whispers employees to stop providing cups with open tops to students.
The library’s policy only allows covered beverages inside the library building. According to Virginia Toliver, associate dean of University libraries, many students were not respecting this rule.
She says that students used to bring uncovered cups into the library.
The library is particularly concerned by the damage because of a recent three-year renovation that concluded in 2004.
In an attempt to remedy the issue, the library contacted the company that manufactures the tables. The manufacturer spent three days retouching the edges of the tables over the summer but said that not much else can be done short of replacing the tables.
According to Toliver, it would cost close to five figures to replace the tables.
She also noted the logistical difficulties involved in replacing the tables, a process that could limit the availability of the library to students for a long period of time.
Toliver expressed dissatisfaction with the ruined tables and said that the library ultimately asked that Whispers stop providing water cups to students in order to preserve the library’s aesthetic and prevent further damage.
“We are worried about the furniture lasting, the library continuing to be an attractive facility,” she said. “This is not a punitive action, and we don’t want the students to feel inhibited or unwelcome in any way.”
Most students did not see this new change as a punishment. In fact, many originally thought that the lack of water cups was a new environmental initiative on campus.
Glaubke thinks the policy might in fact have a positive environmental effect.
“If, as a result, people are more inclined to bring a water bottle, it could certainly have a positive outcome,” Glaubke said.
The disappearance of the water cups has already led to this kind of behavioral change among some students.
Junior Josh Holter recently bought a water bottle solely because Whispers no longer provides cups. The policy has also motivated sophomore Neha Mukunda to use her bottle more often.