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Activists Join Anti-Coke Campaign

By Timothy Brunner
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Issue: 4/14/05
Hofstra University

Student Against Injustice hosted an anti- Coca-Cola forum last Wednesday in their ongoing effort to rid the University of the soft drink supplier.

Ray Rogers at Hofstra

Ray Rogers, founder of the Killer Coke organization spoke to Hofstra students about the devestating actions of the Coca-Cola company abroad

Guest speakers, Ray Rogers, founder of the Killer Coke organization and Amit Srivastava, coordinator of the India Resource Center, spoke to students about the devestating actions of the Coca-Cola company abroad.

Vanessa Cudabec, a junior who organized the event, said more than 80 universities have participated in the fight to exclude Coke from their campuses because of ethical concerns. So far only a handful have been successful.

"We should challenge Coke's presence on campus," Cudabec said. "Because of an exclusive contract [with coke] Hofstra cannot offer more options."

By banishing Coca-Cola products on campus, Cudabec believes the University would gain the respect of activists and businesses in their fight against what they call the company's cruel business tactics.

Rogers, who kicked off the presentation, said the Coca-Cola company is filled with nothing more than lies, deception and immorality. He said in Columnia, Coke "turns farmlands into wastelands" by continually polluting the waters and fields around the bottling plants.

He stressed the danger union leaders face in Colombian Coca-Cola factories. Since 1989 seven union leaders and plant managers have been murdered.

Rogers said paramilitary forces were employed by Coke to break up unions within Colombia. However, to this day no charges have been brought against the company, he said.

Rogers also attacked the company for its production of Dasani, the heavily distributed bottled water.

"Dasani water is nothing more than tap water with some value added," he said.

This value is nothing more than the purification process that normal tap water goes through, he said. Rogers added students and faculty are better off paying the 11 cents, the cost of an empty cup in the Student Center to drink tap water.

Amit Srivastava at Hofstra

Amit Srivastava, coordinator of the India Resource Center, spoke to Hofstra students about the devestating actions of the Coca-Cola company abroad

The presentation continued with Amit Srivastava's depiction of Coca-Cola in his home of India. Because Coke releases the water they use to cleanse the drinking bottles back into the fields throughout the country, it has left much of the water undrinkable and unusable, Srivastava said.

Coke also has told farmers in India that toxic waste from the bottling plants make good fertilizers. Srivastava called the situation " a sure receipt for disaster" because the effects of the pollution have yet to be seen.

Srivastava spoke on various pesticides in Coca-Cola products distributed in India. Lab tests done on various Coke products at different points in India found there were 34 times more pesticides present than those allowed by United States or European Union standards.

At the end of the presentation Cudabec urged student organizations to sign petitions to ban Coca-Cola products from their events and pushed everyone to get in contact with President Stuart Rabinowitz and voice their concerns against Coke and the exclusive contract they hold with the University.

Some students voiced their concerns about the events happening abroad.

"As someone who has been part of the campaign, I am continually shocked at how miserable a company Coke is, after speaking to organizers from the front lines of the struggle, in India and Colombia," Elizabeth Puma, junior education major, said. "We need to reevaluate our priorities."

Media Credit: Timothy Brunner/ The Chronicle Anti-Coca-Cola activist, Ray Rogers, spoke at an SAI hosted lecture last Wednesday.
The photo of Amit Srivastava was taken at Leeds University (UK), Feb. 26, 2005.

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