511th Convocation to feature Lake Michigan’s finest

June 1, 2012

Next week, the University community will celebrate the accomplishments of over a thousand undergraduate and graduate students—but the achievements celebrated at convocation don't stop with the degree candidates. As families toast to newly minted alumni, we would like to raise a glass to those who pushed for the dramatic reductions made in the amount of bottled water at convocation.

In lieu of passing out bottled water for all attendees, the University will offer complimentary water at four Brita Hydration Stations. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own reusable water bottle to fill at the water stations, which will be located throughout the Main Quad; disposable cups will also be available. Jen Stephani, Associate Director of Events in the Office of the Secretary of the University, noted "we are excited to be using Brita Hydration Stations at this year's 511th Convocation. This sustainable drinking water option will help reduce the amount of bottled water needed for convocation."

Indeed, the total number of water bottles provided has been dramatically lowered in the past few years, from 40,000 in 2010 to just over 6,000 this Spring Convocation. This achievement comes at a fitting time: this year, some of the key leaders from UChicago Students Against Bottled Water will be taking their diplomas and setting out for the real world.

"The efforts at Convocation are especially exciting because it's such a large event with the potential to make a big impact in the overall number of bottled water used at the University during the year," reflected Lauren Tarpey, a graduating fourth year and student leader of UChicago Students Against Bottled Water. "It's also a great opportunity to show our family and friends who have traveled from all over just how real the University's commitment to sustainability is. It's a message that our guests can take home with them and start to think about in their daily lives, which is a great way to spread this change. It makes me really proud that we have come this far in a few short years, and I'm excited to see how these efforts continue when I come back to visit campus as an alumna."

We tip our hat to all of the hard workers in four-pointed hats and to their partners, in particular the Office of the Secretary and Facilities Services . In the words of Marina Keegan, "We are in this together, 2012. Let's make something happen to this world." We feel the same way about sustainability: we are in this together, and hope to see future convocations and other University events continue to build on a tradition of sustainable practices.

—Christy Perera, AB'12