Letter: Coca-Cola: Undrinkable

This week is being celebrated as the first ever International Week of Action Against Coke & For Human Rights by several student movements in the US, Canada and UK. Oct. 24th marks the culmination of an international movement for justice and human rights against the Coca-Cola Company for murder, torture, pollution, water degradation/environmental abuse and union-busting throughout the world.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a five year exclusive contract with Coca-Cola that is up for renewal in 2007. According to this contract, only Coke products can be sold on campus. Considering Coke’s egregious records, this exclusive contract with Coca-Cola forces the campus community to subsidize human rights, labor violations and environmental degradation every time one wants a soft-drink, bottled water etc. while on campus.

Here on our campus, Coalition Against Coke Contracts , a broad coalition of campus and community groups in Champaign-Urbana, has mobilized to demand that the University cut its contract with Coke. The coalition also demands that the University divest from Coke since it has repeatedly violated labor rights in Columbia, and is responsible for severe environmental abuse in India.

Several campus groups who are part of CACC will be organizing around campus by way of distributing informational material on the Quad and screening a documentary called “Mehandiganj: Where life is at stake” on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. in Room 192, Education Building. This documentary highlights agitations and protests by the people of India against the deplorable environmental record of Coke and other soft drink manufacturers.

We ask that the University of Illinois not renew contracts with the Coca-Cola Company so long as the company does not affirmatively demonstrate that it is sincerely committed to and abides by the highest standards of environmental stewardship and respect for human rights.

Indranil Dutta

Graduate student