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PROVO — A Brigham Young University student has started a campaign to get the school to allow caffeine to be sold on campus, after a recent blog post by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints clarified the church's stance on consumption of the substance.
In a blog post responding to a recent NBC Rock Center special, the LDS church said caffeine is not prohibited by church doctrine.
"Despite what was reported, the Church revelation spelling out health practices (Doctrine and Covenants 89) does not mention the use of caffeine," the post read. "The Church's health guidelines prohibit alcoholic drinks, smoking or chewing of tobacco, and ‘hot drinks' — taught by Church leaders to refer specifically to tea and coffee."
Caffeine is not sold on BYU campus, an LDS church-owned and operated school. According to school officials, there has not been enough demand for caffeinated beverages on campus.
"This has been in place for as long as I can remember," said BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins. "It was a decision made by Dining Services based on the needs and desires of our customers. It hasn't really been an issue."
It was a decision made by Dining Services based on the needs and desires of our customers. It hasn't really been an issue.
At least one student would like to see caffeinated beverages in campus vending machines, though. Skyler Thiot started the Facebook page "BYU for Caffeine" on Tuesday hoping to show school administrators there is demand for caffeine on campus. More than 1,200 had "liked" the page as of Monday.
"I actually started it as a project for my social media class, but it's kind of blown up," Thiot said. "I kind of saw it as more satirical, like why, after the church's statement, can we not have caffeine on campus, but it turns out there are a lot of people who feel strongly about this."
A petition on change.org also seeks to show demand for caffeine on the school's campus. It had received nearly 400 signatures as of Monday.
"If BYU were saying caffeine shouldn't be sold on campus because it's a cultural gray area, I'd be OK with that," Thiot said. "But I think the support for this page, and the amount of people with pop on campus, have proven that there is demand for it on campus."
I think the support for this page, and the amount of people with pop on campus, have proven that there is demand for it on campus.
It's not a cut-and-dry issue, though. Not all students support the proposed change, including James Marble, who said he believes there is demand for caffeine among students because its effect on the central nervous system can increase mental alertness.
"Caffeine is not the only source of energy," Marble said. "Our bodies are designed to function just fine without caffeine if we get the proper amount of sleep, diet, exercise, etc … and caffeine use has the reputation to help make up for an imbalance in one of those areas."
Marble said he has heard it argued that BYU is taking away students' agency — a valued institution within the LDS community — by not selling caffeine on campus.
"Individuals still have the choice to buy caffeine from off-campus locations," he said. "It may take more effort and energy to purchase it, but the caffeine consumption should make up the deficit for any energy spent."
Jenkins said she has been contacted by multiple students who fall on both sides of the issue. And despite the attention the LDS church's statement is getting, BYU is likely to stay decaffeinated, at least for the time being.
"This is a very busy time of year for dining services," Jenkins said. "Their focus right now is on making sure they provide quality meals to students. I wouldn't be able to speculate on future decisions."