Campus News

Bethel hops on the ‘banned’ wagon

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Students may have noticed around campus that places such as the A la Cart Café and the Acorn no longer contain energy drinks. The reason? Bethel no longer sells them. “The decision to remove the energy drinks from the Acorn was made by Sodexo after receiving information from the Wellness Center,” said Mary Fulton, director of Student Health Services. “That information came from The University of South Carolina’s Healthy Eating Council who studied this subject and advised removal of energy drinks from their campus.” And possibly for good reason. Beverages such as Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy have been considered the possible cause of multiple deaths and hospitalizations in the past years. The FDA is currently investigating whether there is a link between energy drinks and health issues. Granted, they’re not even close to being healthy. Packed with sugar, caffeine and exotic-sounding ingredients such as “guarana” and “taurine,” the drinks are basically soda on steroids. But does that mean they should be removed? Bethel is the latest in a long line of schools to consider banning the questionable drinks. The University of New Hampshire tried to in October 2011, but University President Mark Huddleston retracted the decision, claiming that it should be left up to students. “I want to be sure we respect our students’ ability to make informed choices about what they consume,” he said in a statement. “I have asked my colleagues to defer implementation of the intended ban until we can further explore the relevant facts and involve students more directly in our decision.” According to a USA Today article, “the main reason for the ban on drinks including Full Throttle, Red Bull and NOS, was their tendency to be abused by students who may consume too many of them, or mix them with alcohol.” The combination of energy supplements with alcohol is dangerous because the supplement masks the alcohol’s effects, preventing those drinking from passing out, and causing them to stay awake longer, drink more, and have a false sense of alertness that potentially results in drunk driving or risky stunts. Consequently, energy drinks containing alcohol were banned in 2012, such as Four Loko, which had earned the nickname “blackout in a can.” But what about those using energy drinks as intended? Bethel senior, Hannah Beamer, abides by the drink’s safety recommendations. “I read the can,” she said. “Every single time. And usually I’ll only drink half a can cause there’s two servings in one can. Like, people don’t even realize that either so they’re gonna look at the back of the can which is the information for one serving but then they don’t realize that there’s two servings in a can. So all the stuff that you’re reading on the back should be doubled.” Beamer, who has a history of heart conditions, has never had health problems resulting from energy drink consumption. “I understand that there’s concern, but we’re not children,” she said. “I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself. It’s been really nice that they’ve been providing more healthy options for food… but when it comes to energy drinks I think that they need to leave that alone because that’s one thing that I don’t think they can understand... I think they should let us decide and be responsible for our own decisions about that.” Perhaps energy drinks are just this generation’s equivalent of coffee. Although sophomore Michelle Miller doesn’t drink them often due to the high sugar content, she does like them for when she needs a caffeine boost and doesn’t feel like something hot. It’s possible that the demand for such drinks stems from our society’s ever-increasing pace, demanding more and more from our 24-hour days. With students attending school full-time, working part-time, and trying to fit in extracurriculars and resume experience, it’s easy to neglect sleep. Sophomore Rachel Stover drinks Monster because she likes the taste, but also because the drink keeps her going. “I need to make it through the rest of the day,” she said. “Usually just because I’m tired. I work three morning shifts at the Acorn. I open three mornings a week and then I have three classes and like a ton of stuff to get done so it’s just like, ‘I’m so tired. I was up till one. I got up at 7:30. I need to do stuff.’” In response to the University of New Hampshire’s possible ban, Red Bull sent a statement to the Associated Press claiming “since it would not be right to ban the sale of soda, coffee, or tea on a college campus, it’s also inappropriate and unwarranted to single out and restrict the sale of energy drinks.” Miller disagrees. “I guess it’s their choice,” she said. “They control what kind of pop we have, too. Might as well control that.” Acorn manager, Amanda Angulo, said that she hasn’t had many students complain about the removal. Most don’t even ask for it. Perhaps there isn’t enough demand among students here to cause significant conflict, however the students that regularly bought energy drinks on campus seem pretty fervent. Beamer had this final message. “Gimme back my energy drinks, Bethel.”
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