U must stop supporting Coke

Nothing is worth overlooking the injustices the Coca-Cola Company commits.

The issue is more than students having a variety of soft drink options; it is about the University giving its loyalty to an institution that has left Indian communities devastated.

From the beginning, Coke presented itself to the University community in a compelling manner, marketing itself with its sponsoring of social activities aimed at enhancing campus life, as well as funding academic programs – including career development training and internship opportunities for students.

While the initiatives Coke provides for the University prove to be an asset to campus, profit should not prevail over principle. The fact that students are here at a higher institution studying is in it of itself a rare luxury. This privilege should come with the recognition of justice, and perhaps the most basic of them, the right to water as implicitly stated in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Coke is constantly pumping water out of the Kerala region of India, leaving those who actually reside in the area dry. Today in India, farmers do not have water for their crops, and communities are facing severe shortages directly because of Coca-Cola’s actions. In a lame humanitarian effort, Coke decided to “give back” to the Plachimada community by dumping sludge near irrigation units in what was supposed to be fertilizer, but manifested itself as useless, toxic crap. In the end, the “initiative” killed the crops and gave locals infections. It should not be necessary for the Kerala Supreme Court to rule that groundwater belongs to the general population and that corporations should limit pumping so people simply can live.

The University is transforming into an institution that is immersed within the corporate world, even setting a precedent as far as the kind of contracts that exist between higher education institutions and beverage companies. Students should set a different kind of precedent; one based on the principles of human rights. We not only should resist the Coke campaign, but also it is our duty to support those in India by urging Coca-Cola to honor the decision of the Kerala court and close the plant.