While student activist groups on campus are celebrating the University’s decision to temporarily suspend its contracts with Coca-Cola, many students consider it a flat issue.
The University’s Dec. 29 decision to cut contracts affects most of the University’s 13 contracts with Coke, which have a net value of $1.4 million, leading some students to question the significance of the suspension.
The Coalition to Cut the Contract with Coca-Cola, which led the crusade to terminate University relations with Coca-Cola, says the company will not sustain drastic financial losses due to the contract suspension, but RC senior and coalition member Clara Hardie maintains the decision is still an important step because it creates a ripple effect that will bring to light Coke’s corporate operating procedures.
“We know that a cutting a few vending machines will not change the world, but the public relations is the issue here,” Hardie said.
The severed contract has made the front pages of international newspapers, but many students feel the most visible on-campus result will be empty vending machines.
In cases of non-brand specific vending machines, the University can replace Coke products with alternatives. But campus vending machines labeled with the company name and trademark will be left empty due to brand restrictions, said Dennis Poszywak, assistant director of contract management and purchasing for the University.
Third-party vendors on campus are not affected by the decision and may still continue to carryCoke products due to contractual obligations, Poszywak said.
LSA sophomore and coalition member Lindsey Rogers said she hopes machine restocking will bring more variety in products, adding that the message the University is sending far outweighs possible student inconveniences.
“The statement and importance of the decision is well worth the trade-off,” Rogers said.
But many students, like LSA freshman Brittany Thompson-Johnson, aren’t worried about the inconvenience of the suspension.
“I personally don’t care (about the vending machines) because I don’t drink pop,” Thompson-Johnson said.
Many students were unaware of the controversy. Some said the coalition and the media have overblown Coke’s alleged violations and that the campaign has been overemphasized.
“The issue has a place on campus,” said Engineering senior Devion Deer, adding that student activists often address issues that others overlook.