Out of 307 St. John’s students polled by The Torch, 66 percent believe that the University should cut ties with Coca-Cola if the South American murder allegations detailed in last week’s story, “Chain Reaction,” are true. St. John’s needs to address this issue by dropping Coke, because in matters of life and death, there should be no middle ground.
“This is truly a shock,” sophomore Sean Culkin said. “I cannot believe this is happening to people in Colombia and that colleges and universities around the United States are supporting this by continuing to carry Coke products.”
As the article mentioned, Coca-Cola is currently under investigation in federal court because of the killings and kidnappings of union organizers at Coke facilities throughout Colombia. St. John’s recently signed a contract with Coca-Cola, just prior to the Fall 2005 semester. The question that is now being asked is whether the University will try to opt out of the contract with Coke, or at the very least propose, as New York University tried to do, that the Coca Cola Corporation launch its own investigation into the matter.
In all likelihood, neither courses of action will be taken, and that is deplorable. The very fact that St. John’s recently signed a contract with Coke makes this matter a very touchy one for our university. However, these issues and Coca-Cola’s passive stance on these issues require decisive action by St. John’s.
The allegations, however, remain unproven, as Coca-Cola must remain innocent until proven guilty. Still, these allegations are of a very serious nature and are certainly cause for concern.
St. John’s should follow in NYU’s footsteps by urging Coca-Cola to investigate deeper into the matter. If not, then the University should cut its ties with the soft drink giant, no matter how recently the contract was signed.
As stated in the article last week, there are students that care about this issue and those that don’t. However, the belief that a product a Catholic and Vincentian University is carrying has issues regarding the degradation of human life in other parts of the world should matter to each one of us, including the hierarchy of the University.
Dropping Coke would be a bold decision for the University to make, but one that would demonstrate that the sanctity of life takes precedence above all at St. John’s. An ultimatum must be issued-either get definitive answers on what is happening in Colombia or get lost.
This is not a matter about what tastes better. This is a matter of life or death that each one of us, administrators and students alike, should take seriously. An apathetic approach to this ignores the very ideals our institution was founded upon.