Concerned students boycott Coca-Cola

by Amanda Cohen | 5/23/07 1:45am

Coca-Cola boycotters Eric Espinoza '10, Lena Rochelle Martinez-Watts '08 and Denise Hasson '09 poster Novack Cafe with anti-Coke messages.
by Ryan Yuk / The Dartmouth

The students' focus is on raising enough student support to provoke Student Assembly legislation requesting dialogue with the administration around the College's contract with Coca-Cola.

"We want to discuss what are our options, what should we be doing as a socially conscious campus and working with [the administration]," class member Lena Martinez-Watts '08 said. She added that the class does not intend to accuse the administration of wrongdoings, but rather hopes to engage the College in a dialogue.

"[We're] not ... saying you need to fix this for us, but how do we [work] together, as an entire Dartmouth community, to make it so that we're being better citizens."

Class members also recruited supporters at a table in Thayer Dining Hall on Monday and are slated to table in Collis on Wednesday.

Currently, Dartmouth holds a contract with Coke to provide all fountain and vending machine beverages, effective until July 2014, according to Director of College Dining Services Tucker Rossiter.

The contract was negotiated in 1999, and Rossiter said no concerns about Coke's practices had been raised at the time. The College decided to sign with the company because it offered a better financial deal than Pepsi, the other leading competitor in negotiations, and students preferred Coke products in a blind taste test conducted in Thayer lobby, Rossiter said.

"Dining services doesn't quite take a political stand," Rossiter said. "I think if this had come up eight or nine years ago, I think we might [have raised] the issue, I would have thought at that time, if there were practices by Coke or Pepsi that were subject to review."

Currently, non-Coke soda and water items can be purchased at Topside, and juice and milk options not sold by Coke are available in the dining halls. Both Dartmouth Water and Dasani are distributed through Coca-Cola.

Included in the College's contract with Coke is an allowance for Byrne Hall to continue selling Pepsi products, due to a generous Tuck school donor's ties to Pepsi.

Similar anti-Coke campaigns have been launched at Rutgers University, Hofstra University, New York University and Michigan State University.

If Dartmouth were to follow suit, it would be the first member of the Ivy League to join the campaign.

"Because Coca-Cola's so big, we realize that on Dartmouth campus alone we're not going to have a huge impact on Coca-Cola as a company economically, and so we're trying to focus it more on the social pressure coming from an Ivy League institution, to raise that awareness," Martinez-Watts said.

"If anything, we're trying to get them to change their practices. We're not trying to bring down the company -- we want them to change."

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