Free Website Translator

Leonard Crist declares total thermo-nuclear
war This week, on Coca-Cola

By Leonard Crist
The Jambar - OpEd (Youngstown State University)
Read the Article by Subscription
Issue: April 12, 2005

Leonard Crist declares total thermo-nuclear war This week, on Coca-Cola

In the waning days of this spring semester, I find I have little motivation to do much of anything, let alone declare total thermonuclear war week after week. Writer's block, apathy, sunny days and 12-page term papers all combine to form an effective nuclear deterrent.

Though laziness is appealing, an absence of longer than two weeks would be an indication that my College Republican opposition has won (through whispers and hearsay, I gather they don't like me much). Not wanting to disappoint anyone, I will keep on trucking. A few topics jump out at me.

I could write an I-told-you-so style column regarding the recent pre-Iraq war intelligence report that showed Bush is a big f--k up and all the intelligence was dead wrong. But to be quite honest, I'm tired of criticizing ODB — ol' Dubya Bush. It gets to a point where it's like I'm reciting a list: "...reason number 734 why the president is a tool…"

Or I could write something about the Pope and how his narrow sighted view of the world barred the use of condoms as a means to prevent AIDS - and babies -because some passage in the Bible mentions not spilling your "seed." However, we already covered that in a Jambar editorial last week, pissing off regular letter writer Joe Iesue in the process (see Letters to the Editor below).

But what's really been bugging me for some time now is the all-Coca-Cola status of our fair campus.

Youngstown State University has a long-term contract with Coca-Cola that says in exchange for exclusively selling Coca-Cola's soft drinks (read: Sprite, Minute Maid, Nestea) on campus, YSU gets new scoreboards, money and other fun things. The current contract expires in 2014; YSU first became a Coke campus in 1994.

This is a completely common occurrence. Many colleges, universities and high schools have exclusive contracts with Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Still, exclusive soft-drink contracts subvert capitalism. There are anti-trust laws in place that block monopolies and break them up when they gain enough market share to undermine competition. Exclusive contracts are just monopolies on a smaller scale.

Chris Cole, manager of Peaberry's Cafe in Kilcawley Center, an independent business that contracts with the university, said his cafe is forbidden from selling any beverage that would compete with Coca-Cola products. He said it would be nice to be able to offer other soft drinks to students and in fact, the Peaberry's location in Canfield does not sell Coke products. He said occasionally students ask for Pepsi, but most people understand YSU is a Coke campus.

I, for one, prefer the crisp sweet taste of Royal Crown Cola. I'm not the only one who isn't a huge fan of Coke.

A growing number of student protest groups have formed on Coke campuses nationwide, pressing for boycotts and urging their schools to pull out of their contracts because of the company's unethical practices overseas. The foremost accusation against Coke revolves around the alleged role Coca-Cola played in the murder of several union members at bottling plants in Columbia. Coke, of course, denies responsibility for the killings but has not called for an independent investigation.

In India, a chorus of disapproval has grown increasingly louder over Coca-Cola's production practices there. Local bottlers in need of water to make Coke have drained public groundwater, leaving the surrounding farming communities dry and barren.

K.J. Satrum, the YSU's executive director of student services, admitted she did not look into any of the ethical issues surrounding the Coca-Cola Company when she helped negotiate the most recent contract last summer.

There's also the argument that Coke and Pepsi and Faygo and RC and every other kind of sugar water is bad because they offer no nutritional value and are filled with empty calories. Some people claim that soda is one of the biggest reasons America is suffering through an obesity epidemic and public institutions have no business promoting such unhealthy beverages. This is probably true, however, I like Mountain Dew and diet pop tastes like crap. I don't subscribe to this argument.

YSU absolutely benefits from their exclusive contract with Coke. The university will receive around $1 million from the company over the course of the current 10-year contract. If Pepsi had made a better offer last year, we'd be a Pepsi school right now and I'd be complaining about how I can't get Mr. Pibb on campus. But what it all boils down to is choice. Essentially, the university has said, "We value a little bit of extra income more than we value student choice, free market economics or ethical decision making."

So to level the playing field, I present you with a list of places near campus where you can get non-Coke sugar water:

• Pepsi vending machine outside of the former Little Jimmy's on Lincoln Avenue.

• Pepsi products inside Inner Circle Pizza on Lincoln Avenue.

• Pepsi products at Taco Bell on Fifth Avenue.

• Stewart's flavored sodas inside the Beat on Lincoln Avenue

• Stewart's flavored sodas inside Winslow's Cafe.

May you grow fat and caffeinated.

Call Leonard Crist at (330) 941-1989

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke is making this article available in our efforts to advance the understanding of corporate accountability, human rights, labor rights, social and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.