Discourse / Editorials / Killer Coke / November 12, 2009

More questions need to be answered for Coke ban to work

Last week’s issue of TKS focused heavily on the failure of the Killer Coke resolution to pass the Senate, and the Discourse section had a number of op-eds in support of the resolution. As a Senate member against it, I would like to explain why I voted the way I did.

Though I consider independent decision-making extremely important, the “horrible” thought of one of my constituents staring in shock at an empty Coke cooler is something that never crossed my mind. Also, my vote was not due to a lack of information; I am familiar with the Killer Coke campaign – I’ve seen the film, and I’m aware of the disturbing things associated with Coke’s name. However, I felt the campaign focused too heavily on explaining why Coke should be banned, instead of concrete solutions dealing with the logistics of successfully removing it from campus. Though some research had been done (alternatives to Coke were brought in), there were multiple times during the meeting where members of the campaign argued with or had to be corrected by Helmut on matters concerning the Dining Services side of the equation.

I am not a regular soda drinker, and I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with Coke being gone from campus – a love of high-fructose corn syrup did not make me vote against the resolution. I felt an issue regarding a huge, multi-national corporation (and all the complexities that come with it) could not be boiled down into a simple black and white, yes or no stance and simultaneously maintain an accurate depiction inclusive of all the factors involved. For example, Killer Coke cites the company’s poor environmental practices as a reason for banning it. However, Newsweek’s 2009 Green Ranking of the Fortune 500 companies rates Coca-Cola Enterprises (the company’s largest US bottler) number 1 in the Food and Beverage category, and Coca-Cola number 2. Overall, the two companies rank 36 and 58 out of 500.

Let me emphasize that I am not condoning scanty environmental practices or defending human rights violations. I am merely saying the issue is not that simple. My political/social beliefs are undoubtedly to the left of many, and I see lots of problems with America’s corporate culture.

While I think one only needs to look at the nutrition facts to support banning Coke, I do not feel the campaign’s approach to do so is a comprehensive solution. Despite the resolution’s claims, a complex problem rarely has a simple solution. Only when such difficult questions have complete answers will I support a resolution removing Coke from our campus. Until then, I encourage the campaign to continue its efforts, work with Helmut and Dining Services, and strive to reach a conclusion that can persuade Senate to change its mind.

Greg Noth

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