The Pennoni Honors College held a Pennoni Panel about the importance of clean water in MacAlister Hall Oct. 24 to get students thinking about how much water we waste and how we can alter our habits to limit it.
The event began with a video about Charity: Water, an organization that uses 100 percent of its donations to give people around the world access to clean water. In the video, the founder of Charity: Water Scott Harrison explains his motivation for creating the charity in the first place. Harrison was upset by the fact that almost half of all Americans do not believe in charities, nor do they want to do something to change that.
As a way to motivate current and future donors, he set up a system to notify them when projects were completed by geotagging pictures of Charity: Water’s efforts to their website. After the video, Karen Sams, the administrative coordinator for the Pennoni Panels, led a discussion about the importance of clean water.
The discussion started off with Sams talking about the water situation in the city of Philadelphia and the problems the city has with contamination and purity. The distinction between being “clean” versus water being at “acceptable levels” was highlighted by some of the faculty that attended the discussion.
The group also talked about the environmental impacts of not having clean water. Often, people would rather drink bottled water than out of their own tap. Not only is this an unnecessary household expense, but the plastic bottles just end up in a landfill waiting to pollute the environment, and inevitably, other bodies of water.
The water treatment scandal that occurred in the town of Flint, Michigan was brought up as well and how most United States citizens cannot fathom having unsafe water to drink because we live in America. The Panel’s discussion of trying to make Philadelphia’s water supply better created a link to Flint’s crisis, and just how shocking it is that to this day, the people of Flint do not have drinkable water.
After focusing on water, the discussion shifted toward donor giving in general. Faculty members at the meeting talked about the importance of giving back to the community. They mentioned that most of them always try to give back to those less fortunate and that it does not take much to go wrong for someone to end up homeless.
Sams specifically talked about the moral dilemma of panhandling and would rather buy someone food if they are hungry. At 2:00 p.m., the discussion was adjourned to make room for the class that was coming in.
I was able to sit down with Sams, who had organized the event, to better understand the idea behind this presentation. One of the reasons she organized the event was to get students to think about giving back. Sams returned to one of her favorite sayings, “little changes make big things happen.”
She also stated that students should give money to support the causes they believe in, even if students don’t have money to share. They could always volunteer their time to help out others in need. Sams went on to say that “there is a problem here,” concerning giving back to our community, “but there is a problem in the world in general.”
Sams changed the direction toward the future, suggesting that we can challenge our friends to help too and almost make it a friendly competition to see who can do the most good. The topic then shifted back toward environmental issues.
Sams said she noticed many of Drexel students carry water bottles, but also stated that “those [single use] bottles really do harm to our environment.” Another issue raised was concern about the plastic bags that blow around the streets of campus, and the plastic food containers are still a big problem.
Sams took a strong stance on this topic, saying “We should demand that those things on our campus be recyclable.”
After asking Sams if there was anything that she wished the group could have talked about, she said that she wanted to know what students are going to do now with the information they had learned from the discussion. Sams hopes that more will be done, saying “I think they are going to make changes at home and in their life.”