A challenge to Kean’s Ice Bucket Challenge: Don’t waste the water

By Dr. Kathleen Henderson

The ALS Association stats show that nearly 5,600 people die from the ALS disease annually, and, because statistics are underreported or are guesstimated from third world countries, we can be assured it affects thousands more. How many students who raised money at Kean today even know what ALS stands for…”Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis”.

Kean’s Ice Bucket challenge in comparison to the number of children who die each year from lack of safe drinking water was disappointingly more theatrics and PR than true money raised for research.

Truth be told only 27-28% of all funds raised goes to research for this disease.

Waterborne illnesses worldwide significantly affect more people than ALS alone does.

Everyday throughout our country the ice bucket challenge is raising money for a most worthy cause, as are all causes the public engages in: Cancer, Blood Bourne diseases, Alzheimer’s, Heart, Diabetes, Asthma, Autism, Tuberculosis, HIV, etc. However, in the innocence of promoting the Ice Bucket challenge we did more harm to the environment than we accomplished.

Did anyone consider the thousands of gallons of clean drinking water we are just wasting by pouring it over our heads to the ground?  It is wasteful, and we as a university should have thought of an alternative way to raise money for this worthy cause, besides wasting water and purchasing environmentally non-friendly blue ice buckets.

Food and Water Watch-Water Facts states that “780 million people in the world live without clean drinking water”, and “every 20 seconds a child under the age of five dies due to waterborne illnesses.”  “Diarrhea killed more children in the last decade than in all armed conflicts since WWII combined.” “ Dirty water kills more children than malaria, HIV/AIDS, and traffic accidents joined. And “75% of the people in Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from chronic dehydration because of poor water quality”.

Given these statistics, I believe that even though the ALS ice bucket challenge was exceedingly effective as a teaching tool for our marketing students, it showed that Kean speaks out of two sides of our mouth. Even our caterers charge visitors to

Kean for green biodegradable cups and plates to protect the environment, and then turn around and waste clean drinking water in a self-serving marketing ploy. There had to be a better way.

When dozens of Kean students (three in my own classes) had to drop out this semester because they had a problem with their student loans. Could we not have had a fundraiser for them?  Maybe we would not have the retention and graduation rate problems we currently have, if we only practiced what we preach.

Dr. Henderson is the president of the Kean Federation of Adjunct Faculty, which represents adjunct professors.

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