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Caffeine-craving Brigham Young University students are pushing the LDS Church-owned school to change its stance on cola drinks.
The move was triggered by Aug. 30 statements from BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins in which she said that the school doesn't serve or sell caffeinated drinks because there has not "been a demand for it."
The ban on caffeinated sodas is "not a university or church decision," Jenkins told The Salt Lake Tribune then, "but made by dining services, based on what our customers want."
Still, she said at that time, "We are constantly evaluating what those needs and desires are."
Dining services does conduct "online surveys, focus groups and data analysis" to determine what items to offer on-campus, BYU'sUniversereported, but "has not asked about caffeinated soft drinks."
"I have received emails on both sides of the issue those in favor of caffeine and those against it," Dean Wright, director of dining services, told the student paper. "Dining Services is so busy just getting everything open and serving over 30,000 meals a day that we do not have any plans at this point to do any polling on caffeine."
Skyler Thiot, a BYU senior from Dallas, hopes to show there is plenty of demand. Thiot created a Facebook page, BYU for Caffeine, which had 1,728 likes as of Tuesday afternoon.
Thiot later removed the Facebook page because, he said, the issue was becoming "too contentious."
The Universe conducted its own, unscientific online poll, which favored caffeine buyers by 10-to-1, and a separate petition at change.org asking for caffeinated drinks on the Provo campus also garnered hundreds of signatures.
The issue arose after the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posted a statement on its website reaffirming that "the church does not prohibit the use of caffeine" and that the faith's health-code reference to "hot drinks" "does not go beyond [tea and coffee]."
The website wording later was slightly softened, saying only that "the church revelation spelling out health practices ... does not mention the use of caffeine." That doesn't mean church leaders view caffeinated drinks such as Coca-Cola and Mountain Dew as healthy.
Asked whether the Facebook and petition drive would prompt BYU to begin offering caffeinated sodas on campus, Jenkins declined to speculate.
"It hasn't been an issue," she said Tuesday, "until this time."
Thiot, returned Mormon missionary, has gotten lots of calls from fellow students on both sides of the question. Some support the caffeine move while others accuse him of disloyalty or, worse, disobedience.
What the LDS handbook says
"The only official interpretation of 'hot drinks' (D&C 89:9) in the Word of Wisdom [the church's health code] is the statement made by early church leaders that the term 'hot drinks' means tea and coffee."
Source: LDS Church's Handbook 1