Discourse / Editorials / Killer Coke / November 5, 2009

Putting out the embers

We would like to address last week’s Thoughts from the Embers on the subject of Coca-Cola on campus.

While we do see the point of this Embers is that the people working on the Killer Coke campaign say they want to give people the choice to choose or not choose Coke (make an informed decision, citing Worthen’s quote), and that banning it entirely would be contradictory to letting people choose, there is a part of this article we do not agree with.

“However, Coke is not the only corporation out there committing these crimes against humanity. Nearly any corporation, from the banana industry to Wal-Mart, has the same disrespectful history and current business practices that have stirred the Coke controversy. If we decide to ban Coke, and stick with our principles, we’ll need to embark on all sorts of campaigns in order to rid the campus of corporations evil influences.”

We feel like this is sending the wrong message. Would it really be possible to fight every corporation at the same time? Is this a realistic goal, when most products in our society are made from large companies and not independent producers?

Even by boycotting and removing one company off a campus, it can still impact so much in terms of what that company is doing. We would know that we are not contributing to that company, and we could send a message just like all the other campuses that have banned Coca-Cola. Isn´t the fact that this campaign has surged on our campus indicative that the bans of Coca-Cola on other campuses have made a difference in getting OUR attention? It would show Knox´s true power in numbers that, even against one of the corporations that own the world, we could overcome.

We feel like this is basically telling Knox students, “Why even try?” Why even try to start with one evil corporation, why even try to make a small change? And the message of “why try” is so completely opposite of everything Knox usually tells its students, or even the opposite of what Knox students tell other students. I think the people running this Killer Coke campaign realize that there are a lot of evils in the world, but perhaps the Coke campaign is one that is most easily applicable to campus. Don’t we have to start somewhere?

I feel like there ARE a lot of students on the Knox campus who try to boycott products of both Coca-Cola and several other companies. Also, is this saying that the person who makes an effort to boycott Coca-Cola but still smokes an occasional cigarette is not truly “living what they preach?” I feel like even people who usually practice what they preach have “slip-ups” at times, and if they dedicate most of their time for a higher cause, then we should allow them that human right of making a mistake or doing the best they can.

Also, the reference the article makes to ¨some who are supportive of challenging one aspect of a larger problem” as having a “skewed world view¨ also needs examining. How else on a campus our size is there a way to challenge a problem as big as the Coca-Cola Company? How else but starting small? If beginning on a campus in the small town of Galesburg and trying to spread the word to anyone we can isn´t the best way we can start taking action, what is? If we were to challenge every major corporation at once, less effort would go into each campaign and less change would occur. By localizing efforts, we will try to send this message that says,¨Yes, a small community can make a difference against one of the biggest evils of the world. ¨

Email Katie at kwalker@knox.edu

Annie Zak

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