Editorial: Ban Coke, Hold corporations accountable

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Over the past few years, a campaign to boycott Coca-Cola has picked up steam at colleges across the country, resulting in the bans of the sale of Coke at a handful of schools including the University of Michigan and New York University.

Responding to the deaths of union leaders at a Coke bottling plant in Colombia, schools have called for Coke to create an independent investigation into the deaths—a tactic that has been surprisingly effective, garnering a response from Coke in the form of a large publicity campaign addressing the issues.

We believe that Macalester should join this growing movement and ban the sale of Coca-Cola products on campus until an independent investigation into the deaths is completed and the results are cleared.

In the age of globalization, mega-corporations must be held to a certain ethical standard in all of their operations throughout the world. Egregious human rights violations certainly do not fit this standard of corporate responsibility, and we should not support a company that has committed clear rights abuses.

While Coke has not been found guilty of the deaths in Colombia, by not appointing an independent commission, the company has not acted responsibly on the allegations and has not been satisfactorily exonerated.

Macalester and other colleges have asked the company to conduct an independent investigation, and we have waited plenty of time for it to occur. Until an investigation is complete and reviewed by the Social Responsibility Committee at Macalester, the College should no longer allow the sale of Coke’s products on campus. Should a suitable investigation clear Coke’s name, the College should once again allow Coke to be sold on campus.

This is not to say that we support any alternative company, nor does it imply that we believe every company accused of unethical business practices should be boycotted on campus. However, Coke’s failure to satisfactorily respond to the deaths in Columbia is a violation egregious enough to warrant action. Together, with a growing list of colleges, we might invoke change in a highly visible company and perhaps help set a standard for corporations on a global scale.