Who needs water, right?

Cody Davis,

Growing up I was taught to treat everyone with respect and never jeopardize the safety of another human being.

However, I realized with age not many people or institutions follow the same moral foundations that I do; safety for others is not their first priority.

There is a health and safety issue at Cal State East Bay right now and it centers around the quality of water on campus and the lack of regulation to properly monitor it.

Universities, for example, appear to promote their students’ safety and health no matter what and at all times. For instance, the Environmental Health and Safety Department of East Bay states on their website they are “committed to creating safe and healthful working environments for the University community.”

But sometimes these same educational institutions find themselves more concerned with how their money is spent, or whether their school is portrayed in a positive light, instead of addressing or considering what preventative actions can be taken to combat a problem that could potentially put all students at risk.

According to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the last time CSUEB did a water quality test was on Aug. 29, 2013. Despite multiple attempts to contact CSUEB officials, at the time of publication it was still unclear if the school has done a water test since our initial story came out in spring 2017.

The problem is not going to go away on its own.

Students’ complained about yellow water from certain buildings around campus. Also, several students surveyed mentioned the taste of it was metallic. Further, even some faculty and staff expressed that they bring their own water from home because they did not trust the water on campus.

This investigation resulted in the discovery that East Bay hasn’t done a water quality test for more than four years. But why is that? Are they trying to hide a problem? How would that help themselves or the occupants of East Bay?

Let’s consider this: even if there is nothing wrong with the water on campus, the fact that there is proof to back that up just looks flat out, bad. Doing a frequent and scheduled water quality test would make everyone feel safer and more confident in the administration. But that is not the case.

I think there should be strict regulations which requires, at least, a yearly testing throughout the whole CSU system. Doing a test when “it’s deemed necessary,” which is the requirement at East Bay, is not a safe approach to something that is as important as the quality of water on campus.

How can an institution say it is for the students when something as fundamental as water is not being regularly tested? What power do students and faculty have in changing this irresponsible practice?

After interviewing various people in administration at East Bay about this topic, I was saddened to see many evade the issue. However, I understand why they may do this, mainly because their job could be at stake.

Although, even if you looked at this from the administration’s perspective, it would make sense to do a water quality test more often because that would be a preventative action put in place to make sure the students are safe and cover themselves legally if, for any reason, people get sick by drinking or bathing in the water.

The actions, or lack thereof, concerning this situation don’t add up. It was difficult to not get emotional when pursuing this story, because it was hard to acknowledge that the very people who are supposed to look out for us, take care of us and invest in us, did not seem to have our backs. If they did, they would have, at the very least, acknowledged a fault in the system and agreed to test the water annually.

However, this does not apply to everyone in the administration, and for those who it does it is never too late to enact change. People need to start speaking up for the students, faculty and staff that attended this university and get them active in change.

To end this, I would just like to say, sometimes in life there are moments that test your morality and challenge you to make a life changing decision for the greater good. Without people who take this step, without “watchdogs,” and “whistleblowers,” this world would not know the dirty secrets that people in authority take. Don’t be afraid to speak up, don’t be afraid to challenge power, because without it, we would not be able to progress towards a better way of life for all of us.