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Coke offers more than empty calories

In response to Eddie Klatka’s Nov. 21 column, “OSU should can Coke deal,” I was at first skeptical of the accusations he made against Coca-Cola. He said the corporation “has a laundry list of human rights and worker’s rights violations extending around the world,” that, in India, Coke is “continually polluting villages, where their bottling plants are located, with toxic waste” and that, in Columbia, union leaders have been killed or threatened with murder. This all sounded very serious and far-fetched, so I did some independent research.

I found a video by British journalist-investigator Mark Thomas on YouTube, that covered the very same issues Klatka spoke about. It also included information on Coca-Cola’s past ties to the Nazi Party and touched on its having been a member of Martin Luther King Jr.’s boycott list because of racist business practices. All of this seemed very surprising to me. All of Klatka’s claims seemed to check out.

But, there are some obvious concerns that come to mind with banning Coca-Cola from Ohio State’s standpoint. Mainly, where will all the funding come from for our university events? I asked Klatka if he thought of this. He told me that any cola company would be glad to give OSU money to sell their product. He also pointed out that many students do not want to drink Coke products but have no other choice.

Tonight, Ray Rogers, head of killercoke.org, will speak on campus. Klatka told me Coca-Cola has refused to attend any event in which they would be forced to confront any sort of opposition. I questioned why a one-sided event would be good at giving accurate information. He said that even though there is only one side, educated individuals should hear both sides of an issue before making up their mind.

Klatka concluded our conversation by asking me why the farmers in India and the workers in Columbia would bring up these accusations against Coca-Cola if they were false? What do the farmers and workers have to gain? Fame? Fortune? Their crops are being destroyed and their families are being murdered. There is nothing to gain except getting Coke to clean up its act through international pressure. At OSU, we can take a stand. We can add pressure.

Klatka told me that before Richard Hollingsworth, OSU vice president of Student Affairs, would support this cause, he said he needs to see the Undergraduate Student Government pass a resolution supporting a Coke ban. I hope USG takes a stand on this, and I hope other students do too.

Harry Lindner is a junior in psychology. He can be reached at lindner.27@osu.edu.

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