Church schools, LDS-owned buildings differ on selling caffeine

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misidentified Eric Casperson, and Eric and Katelyn Casperson believe they were misquoted. The article has been updated.

LDS Business College recently began selling caffeinated soda, joining the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on Temple Square.

However, BYU — also an entity of the Church — still does not sell caffeinated sodas on campus.

Dani
BYU alumnus Eric Casperson and his wife, BYU computer science student Katelyn Casperson, discuss their thoughts on caffeine offered on BYU campus. (Dani Jardine)

BYU communications professor Robert Walz said one argument commonly given to explain not having caffeine on campus is a lack of demand.

BYU computer science major Katelyn Casperson said she and her husband, BYU alumnus Eric Casperson, rarely drink caffeine but “see no reason why it shouldn’t be on campus.”

“For me, that is along the same lines as censoring away overly sugary drinks — we all know it is bad for us, but it shouldn’t be restricted,” Katelyn said.

Eric said he tries to drink non-carbonated beverages with caffeine, such as Crystal Light.

“By having drinks with caffeine available on campus, students who need a little extra energy can have it,” Eric said. “But as a (Physical Education Teaching Education) major, I most often try to rely on my own ability, because relying on another source makes me more dependent on something that isn’t natural.”

BYU student Wesley Monahan, also known as “the caffeine dealer,” owns Caffeine Corner. The company delivers cold cans of caffeinated sodas to students and staff on campus within minutes of receiving an order via text.

“Most people actually give me praise,” Monahan said. “I even have a lot of staff members who make purchases and wish me well.”

Walz said he was raised in a home where caffeine was forbidden, and he is now making up for lost years.

“Caffeine is not against the Word of Wisdom and never has been,” Walz said. “No studies say that it’s a hazard to health unless it’s in large quantities.”

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintain the standards listed in the Word of Wisdom, some of which pertain to what substances members should refrain from partaking.

Both the Word of Wisdom and the BYU Honor Code mandate abstinence from  “alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and substance abuse.”

BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said BYU has a contract with Coca-Cola, that says BYU will only sell Coca-Cola soft drinks on campus, except for in certain places such as the BYU Creamery, which sells caffeine-free Dr. Pepper.

“BYU has simply chosen not to sell caffeinated beverages on campus,” Jenkins said in an email.

Jenkins said Coca-Cola does not produce caffeine-free products just for BYU.

BYU does not sell caffeinated drinks on campus. On-campus vending machines sell caffeine-free Coke products. (Dani Jardine).

Katie Whiteside, head manager at the Nauvoo Café in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, said she sees workers from the LDS Church office “stop in with their soda fountain punch cards each day and fill up.”

She said Diet Coke seems to be the favorite choice amongst church headquarters employees.

Communications professor Joel Campbell tweeted on March 29 that caffeinated drinks were available at LDS Business College.

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