Topic: Student Affairs

January 28, 2016

Elijah Bell, a sophomore exercise major, carries almost 140 pounds of water from his car to donate to residents of Flint, Michigan, during Fresh Water Wednesday. Also pictured are students (from left) Abigale Mitchell, Shay Stewart and Kirsis Dipre. 

Like many Ball State University students, Robert Miles admits he has never been to Flint, Michigan, but the president of the Black Student Association (BSA) jumped into action after learning about the community suffering a water crisis.

During #FreshWaterWednesday, various student groups used the Atrium in the Art and Journalism Building to collect bottled water and cash to assist Flint, still reeling from the lead contamination of its water supply.

“I got this idea after seeing the contaminated water and citizens in the media,” said Miles, who plans to graduate this spring with a degree in natural resources and environmental management. “It was heartbreaking to see a community going through this. I knew that something had to be done to bring this community clean water. I see communities closer to Flint having water drives and decided that we should do that.”

During the daylong drive, students collected 2,414 bottles, 75 one-gallon jugs of water and about $350 in cash. Students will take their collection this weekend to the Madame C.J. Walker Center in Indianapolis, where various organizations are transporting supplies north.

“College students play a huge role in social movements and have done so for quite some time,” Miles said. “College students’ help is important to things like this because we have the ability to influence others and draw attention to issues, especially once we unite. Today was a great example of us uniting, influencing and shedding light on the water quality issue in Flint, Michigan.”

Avery Haynes, one of several BSA members working the event throughout Wednesday, has been closely following the story via national newscasts for several weeks.

Participating student groups

  • Black Student Association
  • Latino Student Union
  • Epsilon Sigma Alpha
  • Coalition of Christian Outreach
  • Asian American Student Association
  • Student Government Association
  • Interfraternity Council
  • National Pan-Hellenic Council
  • Public Relations Student Society of America
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
  • Western Equestrian Team
  • Student Voluntary Services
  • Ball State Energy Action Team
  • Theta Chi fraternity
  • 21st Century Scholars Ambassadors
  • Alliance of Black Teachers
  • Beta Alpha Psi business fraternity
  • Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences

“Water is a necessity for life, since we need it simply to survive,” said Haynes, who is studying business. “I am from Indianapolis, and I would hate for something like this to happen to my community. I am encouraged by the people in Flint. They are not lying down and taking this but are getting the word out. That is where we come in.

“I sense a great deal of activism here today because people are bringing in one bottle of water or cases. If college students can help just a little bit, it could mean a great deal to the folks up there.”

The Latino Student Union (LSU) galvanized its members for the drive after news of the crisis spread across campus, said Salvador Reynoso, an Indianapolis resident studying graphic arts management.

“As the public relations chair for our organization, I saw this was a great cause and something that we had to do. It feels great to be a part of helping people.”

Carlos Mata, a telecommunications major from Des Plaines, Illinois, and LSU president, was proud of his fellow students as they lugged in case after case of bottled water throughout the day.

“I think everyone in the U.S. deserves clean water,” he said. “What is happening there is a travesty. We are doing our part to help those people”