SGA’s Refill Station Initiative is Set Afloat

Youngstown State University’s Student Government Association approved and funded, on Feb. 3, the addition of a water bottle refill station to Kilcawley Center over spring break, with hopes of adding these stations in buildings around campus.

Ashley Orr — a sophomore mathematics major and SGA representative —  said SGA voted unanimously in support of the idea.

“There was a motion passed, with all in favor, for student government going ahead and sponsoring this initiative and appropriating $750 toward the purchase of one [station] for Kilcawley Center,” Orr said.

The stations will be purchased from Hasley Taylor and serve the dual purpose of a refill station and drinking fountain, replacing the current fountain on the top floor of Kilcawley across from the information desk. The funds for the stations will come out of the SGA operating budget, which has a surplus of funds — not the appropriations budget.

Orr conceived the idea after a student complained to her about the lack of a refill station; other similar sized universities like Kent have them in their student centers.

“She said ‘I just really wish that we would have more convenient options to fill-up water bottles like other colleges and airports,’” Orr said. “I’m an SGA rep, I could probably do something about this.  At the next SGA meeting … I just brought it up in new business, and they all wanted me to go and investigate more about it.”

Orr and other SGA members proceeded to distribute surveys around Kilcawley, with responses resoundingly positive.

“We surveyed students and collected about 120 responses within an hour or so about the water bottle refill stations,” Orr said. “Almost everybody said they wanted the water bottle refill station and said that they would use them everyday or multiple times a day.”

With students at their back, SGA held a meeting with Kilcawley Center staff and discussed the placement of the stations. Catie Carney, president of SGA, remarked that Kilcawley was supportive from the beginning.

“Kilcawley Center was very cooperative and encouraging. They worked with SGA since the beginning to make sure that this project could become a reality. We are grateful to have worked with such a supportive staff,” Carney said.

Because of student support, Kilcawley agreed to install the new stations for no extra fee and pay for any additional water costs. They also only requested $750 of the $1000 price for the station.

In the surveys, students ranked the Rec as the second location they would like to see a refill station. Though nothing is official, Michael Slavens, vice president of SGA, said this second addition is moving forward.

“With the one in the Rec, they wanted proof that people would use it, since it was a little more expensive to do. So, we finished up the responses, and there is overwhelming support for it,” Slavens said. “I believe we actually set up a meeting with the people from the Rec, and we are going to sit down and talk with them and finalize it. … It looks good.”

After about a year, SGA will use the data gathered from the stations to write a grant with the YSU Recycling Department in hopes of continuing to add this feature in other buildings.

“Generally speaking, using a water refill station will
reduce plastic waste from
disposable water bottles.
The neat thing about the refill station SGA is placing in Kilcawley Center is that it is able to keep track of how many water bottles are being saved by using the fountain,” Carney said. “The fountain is able to track this data so we will be able to see exactly how much we are reducing plastic waste.”

Carney said she is confident that the additions will be an improvement for the entire campus.

“SGA has received very positive feedback. Hundreds of students have participated in our survey, and many more have voiced positive feedback either in person or on our social media sites. I am confident that this new feature will positively impact the student body, as well as faculty and staff,” Carney said.