Archie Mitchell is a business administration senior and KCPR General Manager. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.


Dear Cal Poly, thank you for the water bottles, lots of love, the environment.

It is a momentous weekend for the Cal Poly community. Nearly 6,000 graduates will step on stage to shake hands with University President Jeffery Armstrong, ending their ‘Learn By Doing’ experience. Each will be presented a diploma, and as boasted by Cal Poly’s website: “each graduate and guest will receive a complimentary bottle of water upon entry.”

Cal Poly’s commitment to sustainability has appeared questionable at times, but distributing somewhere in the region of 40,000 single use water bottles flies in the face of any claim to be at all concerned about the environment. Students and their guests had the option to avoid single use plastics taken out of their hands.

Also boasted by Cal Poly’s website is the initiative to educate students about the environmental impact of purchasing bottled water by giving them a refillable bottle on arrival to Cal Poly. From this, one can conclude the university is well aware of the harm caused by plastic to the environment ⁠— perhaps the commencement team just didn’t get the memo.

On top of this, a clear bag policy has been put into effect. This means that free clear bags were distributed to grads and guests on campus throughout commencement weekend. And if that’s not enough, you can also buy a Cal Poly branded version – at least the fishies will know who to blame for these ones!

Perhaps the event planners haven’t read Cal Poly’s own zero waste hierarchy, but it urges students quite explicitly to “say ‘no, thanks!’ to plastic bags,” and goes on to ensure we bring our reusable water bottles wherever we go.

It can at times be hard to practice what you preach. Just the other day my mother told me to start wearing a bicycle helmet – but doesn’t wear one herself. What lesson does it teach, though, to do an about face on one’s own campus action policy simply for the convenience offered by water in a bottle.

Of course I have been let down by Cal Poly before. Wasting student’s money on a lacklustre logo and bringing an egotistical hired hand in as our commencement speaker, for example. These instances, though, pale in comparison to the unnecessary consumption of tens of thousands of single-use plastic water bottles.

The initiative, presumably, is to discourage the importing of alcohol in hydroflasks and camelbacks. Of course we all want to avoid another impromptu speech by a drunken buffoon. But avoiding intoxication with 6,000 graduating seniors is almost as likely as Barrack Obama showing up dressed as Musty the Mustang to give the keynote address.

We’ve each been charged $95 towards our commencement ceremonies, and it’s time we start getting a bigger say in how these events are run. Myself and many of my classmates are sorely disappointed to be contributing to the distribution of thousands of dollars’ worth of single use plastics.

Also disappointing to note is that the provision of these plastic bottles does little to work towards the California State Univerisity’s official policy to discontinue distribution of single-use plastic water bottles before January 2023. At least this is one of the final times.

For those hoping to BYOB (bring your own bottle), stadium security will use discretion in regard to unsealed beverages and reusable water bottles. I, for one, encourage them to use this discretion generously, for I fully intend to insert an ice cold Lagunitas IPA in my bottom, and hope to not remove it until the proceedings have begun.

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