Touchless Drink Dispensers: Are They Worth the Hassle?


Jing Chen

The new drink dispensers at Upper require you to put your finger between the touchless sensors.

Allyson Bennett, Contributing Writer

All students on campus are familiar with the two main dining halls: Upper and West. Upper has the pasta bar and better food, whereas West has a classic buffet. Those aspects are not an issue. Something else that they both have are drink dispensers. Said drink dispensers are touchless. You have to put your finger between two consoles in order for it to dispense. I have mixed feelings about it, for many reasons.

Firstly, the dispenser takes a minute to get used to. You can’t move your finger too far back in the dispenser because the sensors are further forward. I have shaken my fingers in between the sensors, and it flickers on and off, so keep your fingers still. The only non-touchless button on the dispenser is for water. 

I questioned why the dining staff decided to utilize a touchless dispenser versus a button. Design-wise, a button is more reliable because the user controls when it is off and on more reliably. So I wrote on their feedback board in Upper. 

They claimed that they used the touchless dispensers to eliminate cross-contamination. Considering the number of illnesses on this campus, I can see why. I had some sort of flu last week, and I know other people who have it too. I also know nearly a dozen people who have had COVID-19 in the past month. A touchless dispenser reduces the risk that people get these diseases through surfaces. 

What also reduces the risk is periodically cleaning the dispensers. That was common practice during the height of COVID-19, and I don’t see why that can’t still continue. When I go to the gym, there are wipes, so getting them in bulk shouldn’t be an issue. 

Ultimately, the touchless dispensers are okay, but they take getting used to. I’ve managed to get used to them over the course of several weeks, but they aren’t as easy as traditional dispensers.