U must take a hint from Macalester

The University must demand ethical practices from Coca-Cola.

Macalester College in St. Paul might join about 20 other colleges and universities around the country in banning Coca-Cola products from its campus.

Macalester students are questioning whether their campus should support Coca-Cola, a corporation with numerous allegations of human-rights violations around the world. University of Minnesota students should do the same. The campaign to oust Coca-Cola from the Macalester campus began in fall 2005 when the Student Labor Action Coalition appealed to the Social Responsibility Committee in the college, a group that reviews ethics regarding campus activities. Based on its findings, the committee agreed to pass a resolution to not renew an exclusive Coca-Cola contract, but did not feel that it was necessary to launch a complete ban of Coke on campus.

Since then members of the coalition remained persistent and last spring demanded that Coca-Cola agree to an investigation. Unfortunately, Coca-Cola refused to take part in an independent investigation. New York University kicked Coca-Cola off its campus because the company refused to participate in an independent investigation. What does Coca-Cola have to hide? Could it be that it stands idly by when union members are being murdered in cold blood in Colombia? Could it be that it is stealing water from villages in India? Could it be the way it has treated union workers in Pakistan and Turkey? Student Labor Action Coalition members appealed to the Social Responsibility Committee, this time bringing up allegations against Coca-Cola in Turkey and Indonesia, in addition to the well-known allegations in Colombia and India. Given the flagrant allegations against the company and its refusal to an independent investigation, the Social Responsibility Committee recently passed another resolution to have a complete ban of Coca-Cola products on its campus.

The case against Coca-Cola is strong, and the fact that the company refuses to participate in independent investigations is a sign that it has more to hide. It is an embarrassment to the University that just because Coca-Cola gives us a few grants and scholarships, we, as an institution, are willing to overlook its human-rights abuses. At what cost do we overlook our values?