Cooper’s and the cafe: concerning caffeine consistency

Kevin Niederman

I understand and respect that our school is a religious one, and certain rules might be in effect regarding a variety of substances, but the way in which we handle caffeine drives me mad.

Caffeine is everywhere. Most of us partake daily. My instagram page is flooded with self-described “white girls” posting about their #coffee and #caffeinefordays. It invades everything from the soda we drink to the chocolate we eat.

Union College seems to not sell caffeine. The selection of Pepsi products offered at the caf are all caffeine-free variants. Our coffee is equally decaffeinated. It feels like caffeine is a controlled substance, but it's not. Student and faculty alike partake in equal measure.

We have no rule against caffeine. So why must I settle for "decaffeinated" options when purchasing at Cooper's or the caf?

I’ve been told that Ellen White had much to say about the harm of caffeine, and as our religion’s cofounder, her beliefs hold great weight over our own decisions. She, however, never talks about caffeine, but instead, about tea and coffee.

The words tea and coffee appear together 515 times throughout her works, not including the thousand plus times they are used separately. In her book “Testimonies for the Church,” she notes, “Tea has an influence to excite the nerves, and coffee benumbs the brain; both are highly injurious. You should be careful of your diet.”

If the reasoning behind our abstinence from caffeine comes from White’s writings, then why do we still offer tea and coffee? We sell a whole lot of tea and coffee here.

The prize for all our little mini lotteries (see White's writings on gambling) is almost exclusively gift cards to the Mill, a local coffee shop; a place whose business model depends on caffeine.

Why not give gift cards for a local bakery or pizza place?

The next gift card could be for a gun shop where I could get air fresheners, or a local bar for water and peanuts.

White also talks at length about gluttony and self control. We already sell food by weight, so it would be very easy to implement a system where, say, the total ounces of food one could purchase per meal would be limited. Why don’t we do that?

Furthermore, assuming she was indeed referring to the effects of caffeine specifically, why do we still sell products containing it? Those real brew teas on sale at both the caf and Cooper’s have more caffeine than a can of Pepsi. The “power" fruit punch SoBe beverage has more caffeine still.

For every 1 ounce of dark chocolate there’s 12 milligrams. There’s even 5 milligrams in a Snicker’s bar, and, for the record, decaffeinated coffee isn’t completely free of caffeine.

All I’m asking for is consistency. If the little stuff is okay then, hey, maybe a real cup of coffee? Maybe an actual Coke? But if caffeine is so unacceptable, then be thorough about it.

However, if skipping minor infractions like these is totally in the clear, than I want my next caf dinner to have some turkey bacon and beer-battered fries with a side of hemp milk.

It should go great with my 12-tablespoons-of-sugar root beer while I vape a little riding my tricycle back home to watch a copy of “Snakes on a Plane” censored for content and all the swear words replaced with similar, yet inoffensive, word alternatives.

I’m sure I’m in the clear there.

Kevin is a junior studying nursing.