Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
The college has decided to replace bottled Coca-Cola products with Pepsi products at Essie Mae’s and the two coffee bars. “We have made two gestures towards Coca-Cola to get this notion of an independent investigation advanced,” explained Vice President Maurice Eldridge ’61, “but we’ve had no response, and they haven’t had an independent investigation, so we thought this was the next logical step to take.”
Over the past year, Swarthmore’s Kick Coke campaign has managed to collect over 350 signatures in support of removing the company’s products from the Swarthmore campus. As campaign member Ruth Schultz ’09 said, “it is a step in the right direction to hold Coca-Cola accountable for its labor rights violations and environment abuses abroad… it is important that we use our power as a shareholder and purchaser of Coke to hold them accountable and demand an independent investigation.”
While Kick Coke sees the recent decision as “a step in the right direction,” Schultz went on to say that the campaign is “dedicated to cutting the Sharples contract and making a stronger statement to Coca-Cola.”
The college has two separate contracts for bottled and fountain Coca-Cola products. The contract for fountain Coca-Cola is “a contract that we have directly with the firm in Atlanta,” according to Vice President for Facilities Stuart Hain, and Swarthmore is part of a consortium of six local colleges who buy together under this contract. The other colleges include Haverford and Bryn Mawr; Hain said that as far as he knows, “none of the other schools have active Kick Coke campaigns.” The contract expires in 2007, and the college plans on reassessing their commitment to it at that point.
For bottled Coca-Cola, the college has an arrangement with the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Rather than a multi-year contract, the college has a vendor-buyer relationship with the company, one that was easier to break off than the multi-year, multi-college contract. Once the current Coca-Cola-supplied coolers in Essie Mae’s are replaced with Pepsi coolers, Pepsi will allow the college to sell off its remaining Coca-Cola inventory before switching entirely to Pepsi products.
Hain promised that Dining Services was “working not to cost the college or the students extra money,” and said that the college “hoped to make the switch during Spring Break.” Flyers will be placed in Essie Mae’s informing students about the upcoming switch, and Kick Coke will continue to plan events to educate students about the campaign.