Thirsty for justice: Students campaign for Killer Coke
Killer Coke, the campaign to get rid of Coca-Cola products at New College, has made a lot of waves over the past few weeks, gathering student supporters and momentum.
The campaign is trying tirelessly to rid the New College campus of Coca-Cola products, due to the company’s unhealthy products and inhumane actions across the globe, including the murders of union leaders and racial discrimination in Coca-Cola plants. Specific cases of the company’s unethical actions include the murders of union leaders Isidro Gil and Adolfo Munera in Columbia, a history of racial discrimination in the United States and tax evasion and child labor in several other countries. Over 65 different college campuses and four high school campuses have joined the movement and ceased to do business with the company in one way or another.
“I would say that on a small scale, on the New College campus, our goal is to achieve a complete divestment from Coca-Cola,” thesis student Tomas Laster said. “That means not serving Coca-Cola products in Ham, at school functions and events. And on a broader scale, our goal would be to put pressure on the Coca-Cola corporation and bring their crimes to light.”
Metz Culinary Management currently has an agreement with Coca-Cola, and all beverage options that can be found in the Hamilton Center are produced by the company. Despite the large amount of student support that is backing the movement, Metz has not changed their products, and shows no intention of doing so.
“We at Metz are aware of the accusations and have discussed this situation with The Coca-Cola Company,” Maureen Metz, Metz’s VP of Marketing responded. “We are satisfied with the responses the company has provided and must trust the legal system that has cleared Coke of all accusations.”
With no apparent interest in changing products, it is left a mystery whether or not Killer Coke can push Metz to the point of replacing Coca-Cola products.
“I think so,” Laster said. “I think at this point the main thing that we are doing is raising awareness and trying to get students involved and trying to get a solid demonstration of student support. We’ve been in contact with Bill Moore, the manager at Metz, as well as people from the administration to sort out some of the bureaucratic elements of moving the campaign forward. I think that it is something that we’ll be able to move forward, since I think the facts speak for themselves.”
“When we spoke to Bill, he said that he was here to make money for Metz and make money for New College,” thesis student Leah Duncan said. “He also said that he wants to keep the student body happy with what’s there, and so if the student body shows that they are not happy with supporting the Coca-Cola corporation, then we can remove it.”
The Killer Coke movement has seen significant support through New College’s morally and socially sensitive student body.
“We went around and now we have a total of 150 signatures, and what we are hoping to do is get it on a ballot so we can get an official student vote,” Duncan said, referring to how she and Laster went door-to-door in the Pei courts looking for signatures. “We do have a fair amount of support, because that was just from the first-year class.”
Neither Laster nor Duncan could give an estimate on when the situation might be resolved, but they very much emphasized the importance of student involvement throughout the process, even looking for input when considering what might replace the Coca-Cola products.
“We are looking to provide a serviceable replacement product for every Coca-Cola product that is currently in Ham,” Duncan said. “Some examples for soda are like Jones Soda and China Cola when looking for quality ethical products. The more input we can get from students, the better.”
“We are really looking for third-party ethically-sound companies to replace Coca-Cola products with,” Laster said, acknowledging Pepsi’s human rights violations accusations.
While there still seems to be several obstacles in the way of achieving divestment from Coca-Cola here at New College, the Killer Coke movement seems very determined to rid the campus of Coca-Cola’s inhumanely-produced beverages.