PROVO, Utah ― For the first time in over 60 years, Brigham Young University will sell caffeinated soft drinks on campus.
BYU, which was founded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is the largest private religious university in the country, announced the decision on Thursday morning.
Dean Wright, the school’s director of dining services, said the decision to allow caffeinated soda on campus was a response to student demand. “Consumer preferences have clearly changed and requests have become much more frequent,” he wrote in a Q&A.
Inside the food court on campus, students snapped photos and silly videos as they poured themselves giant cups of Coca-Cola.
“BYU is about to get lit!” said Justin Hymas, 20, who is studying construction management.
Sarah Prince, a 19-year-old nursing student, said she used to bring in her own cans of Mountain Dew to help her through the day.
“It is so hard to get through class without caffeine,” she said.
Many people believe Mormons must abstain from caffeine entirely, but that’s not true. According to a statement put out by the church in 2012, prohibited items are “alcoholic drinks, smoking or chewing of tobacco, and ‘hot drinks’ ― taught by church leaders to refer specifically to tea and coffee.”
Still, there is a lingering stigma against caffeinated drinks among some Mormons, especially the older generation.
At BYU, the “honor code” requires that students do not partake in “alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse.”
Rachel Densley, 22, said she was super jazzed about the change, and didn’t expect to see much opposition from students.
“Within our generation, I’ve never met anyone who is morally opposed to caffeinated sodas, so I think any backlash will fade over time,” she said.
At one table, Grant Casper, 19, a marketing student, and Andrew Kiser, 22, who is undecided on his major, sat and slowly enjoyed their sodas before class.
Casper called the soda a godsend.
“It’s nice to have a kick to start the day,” he said.
“It’s a big day,” Kiser said. “It’s the first day that Coke has come to BYU, so you have to partake.”
Ashley Lee at The Daily Universe contributed reporting.