Campus / Killer Coke / News / January 19, 2011

Coke survey flawed

For winter term, Student Senate President and senior Sam Claypool worked with the Registrar to make a survey regarding Coca-Cola products on the Knox campus included in the Registrar’s online check-in. After these surveys were answered, however, Registrar Kevin Hastings sent an e-mail out to campus reporting that several students were unable to answer “No” to the survey questions.

This survey comes after more than a year-long campaign called the Killer Coke campaign, which is a worldwide effort (as stated on to boycott Coca-Cola due to its alleged human rights violations. On the Knox campus, Estudiantes sin Fronteras (ESF) has been the major proponent of the campaign.

The survey presented students with two questions: “Would you support Knox College no longer selling Coca-Cola or Coca-Cola products on campus due to alleged human rights abuses worldwide?” and “Have you attended an event about the Coca-Cola boycott campaign, signed a petition to recommend to stop selling these products on campus or read information about the Killer Coke campaign?” For both, the answers available were “Yes,” “No” or “Prefer not to answer.”

Even though, as written in Hastings’ e-mail from Jan. 5, “we have reports from a handful of people that in the Coke products survey on check-in that they have not been able to select ‘No,’” ESF President and senior Rosie Worthen said that ESF is still going to use the data.

“We just kind of wanted to see how many of those [students] wanted to kick Coke off campus, as well as how many of those students went to Coke events,” Worthen said. ESF plans to examine the results and determine how well their campaign strategies have worked. Worthen also said that she would be e-mailing the results to Director of Dining Services Helmut Mayer and members of the Knox administration.

For the results of question one, 536 students answered yes, 300 answered no and 419 preferred not to answer. For the results of question two, 332 students answered yes, 555 answered no and 368 preferred not to answer.

Hastings heard from nine students that wanted to answer “No” and were unable to, and so in that same e-mail from Jan. 5 he prompted others who wanted to vote “No” to contact him.

“[It was] for ESF to know if they should still keep pursuing this,” Claypool said. “I didn’t think they [the votes] were compromised really in any way.”

“My first instinct is to help people out and be reasonable,” Hastings said about allowing the survey to be a part of winter term check-in. “In the future, I’d definitely avoid it.”

The reason for conducting this survey was because ESF tried to get a campus-wide referendum voted on through Student Senate last year, but, as Claypool said, “It came back with results we couldn’t use. People could vote a million times, so no one could check the validity of it.”

After discussion, ESF and Claypool determined that a good way to get an idea of the campus-wide attitude towards the Killer Coke campaign was through check-in, which all students must participate in unless they are studying abroad.

“That’s the only way we could think of that every student has to answer the question,” Claypool said.

Hastings said that the glitch in the survey might have been browser-related.

“It could have been a bunch of people with new iPads running Safari,” Hastings said.

As far as what is going to be done with the data after ESF assesses how well their campaign has reached campus, Worthen said they will most likely be letting their Killer Coke efforts come to an end at Knox.

Because many seniors who put effort into the campaign graduated last year, and many more seniors who have been a part of it will graduate this year, “This was kind of the last straw for the Coke campaign,” Worthen said.

“The Killer Coke campaign …we’re kind of halting with that. But there are students that will be here next year that are interested in it [continuing the campaign],” Worthen said.

Annie Zak

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