The University’s recent decision to resume purchasing Coca-Cola products has done more than raise a few surprised eyebrows. Members of the Coalition to Cut Contracts with Coca-Cola joined together last week in protest of the decision, which was made hastily and without the consultation of involved students.
The University’s own Dispute Review Board found nearly a year ago that there was credible evidence to support the allegations against Coke. Rather than bringing its practices into compliance with the University’s Vendor Code of Conduct, Coke chose to ignore the deadlines the University set for an investigation. By prematurely resuming business with Coke, the University has undermined the force of its own ethical standards.
One particularly troubling point is that members of the Coke Coalition say University administrators assured them at a recent meeting that no action would be taken to reinstate the Coke contract without first consulting students. This apparent lack of trust between University administrators and students raises serious questions about whether those in power actually care about student concerns. Such a lack of communication discourages student activism and casts a dubious light on the administration.
The DRB found sufficient reason to investigate Coke, and these investigations should have been concluded before the contracts were renewed. Given the allegations against Coca-Cola and the company’s history of bad-faith in submitting to investigations, one might have expected the University to proceed with caution before reinstating the contract. That, apparently, would have been too optimistic.