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The Drought and our New Necessity

As an active graduate student in the Stanford community, I am disappointed in Stanford’s handling of the announcement of California’s drought emergency. With the lowest rainfall in the Bay Area in recorded history, snow-pack at less than 20% of normal in the Sierras and reservoirs in Santa Clara County at 3%-capacity as of the end of January, water shortages are imminent. The governor of California has asked residents and businesses alike to curtail water usage in an attempt to reduce use by 20%.

As a leading university in the United States, I believe it is Stanford’s duty not only to academically educate its students but also to teach them to positively influence their greater community. Stanford should announce the drought emergency to its students and give advice about how they can help conserve water. It should set an example by cutting water consumption, perhaps through a reduced grass-watering schedule. It should make students aware and get them involved.

Here is an example of the current mental state of many Stanford students: I was leaving the dining hall one evening with friends after a particularly stressful day, and I asked them what I should do to relax. They told me to enjoy an hour-long shower. I commented that we were in a drought, and I probably shouldn’t do that. They laughed and replied that it didn’t matter since I was just one person and we weren’t paying for the water.

Stanford students are future leaders of America. It takes more than academic intelligence to be a leader, and Stanford has the opportunity to foster a responsible societal attitude in these future leaders. Stanford can start by promoting a constructive response to the drought emergency. It should make students aware of how their water use affects the Stanford community and the greater California community. Be a leader on water conservation.

Amy Fritz

Second-year PhD candidate, Electrical Engineering


Contact Amy Fritz at