UT should ensure outdoor water stations are filled

Mihir Gokhale, Columnist

On Mooov-In Day, my parents left me with one final piece of advice: Drink lots of water. With Austin experiencing 52 days of triple-digit temperatures from May to August, I figured those were wise words. 

In an attempt to combat this issue, UT has installed several outdoor water hydration stations on campus. But these stations are often empty of water and cups, greatly restricting students’ on-the-go water access. 

UT should better maintain its outdoor water hydration stations to increase water accessibility for students. 

I’ve experienced this firsthand: a feeling of unquenchable thirst as I walk down Speedway, followed by the frustrating realization that one of UT’s water stations doesn’t have water or self-serve cups. It’s a simple, but serious issue — and one with significant consequences. 

Nathaniel Gonzales, a business freshman, shared some of his experiences with UT’s water hydration stations.

“Many times, especially whenever it was above 100 degrees some days, I actually did try to get water from (a station) and there was no water,” Gonzales said. “I rely on them pretty heavily, especially since I have a class near McCombs, and then I have to walk all the way to the engineering building.”

With a 431-acre campus, UT students must constantly walk in the heat from one location to the next. Students don’t always have time to enter a building and find a water fountain, and not everyone regularly carries a water bottle. 

“Out of my friends, I’ve noticed that only one out of every four carries a water bottle,” said Rohan Nigudkar, a public health freshman. “It’s very difficult to find a proper water supply between two locations. … (Water stations) should be effective, meaning that they should be replaced and changed whenever necessary.” 

Despite multiple requests,  University administration was not available for comment prior to the publication of this article. 

On-the-go hydration is essential. Research has concluded that most college students consume significantly less water than the daily recommended values. Proper hydration impacts students’ cognitive performance, elevates mood and increases energy

By actively servicing its outdoor water hydration stations, UT can encourage students to drink more water at numerous access points. University personnel should ensure that water stations always contain plenty of water and are stocked with grab-and-go cups. The solution isn’t complicated and its health benefits are plentiful.

Such changes could vastly improve water accessibility across UT’s student body. Those with distant classes could rest easily knowing they can hydrate during a long walk. Additionally, students who study or table outdoors won’t have to step indoors for a quick drink. 

University Health Services states on its website that “maintaining adequate hydration will help (students) concentrate and reach (their) peak performance,” but without actionable change, these are merely empty words. 

By better maintaining its outdoor water hydration stations, UT can motivate students to follow UHS’ recommendations. The result? A significant improvement to students’ well-being and on-campus college experience.  

Gokhale is an undeclared business freshman from Allen, Texas.