Friday, December 30, 2005

Alumni news...

I find an interesting distinction between the left and right as regards activism like this. Liberals are more apt to initiate and participate in boycotts based on a corporation's actions (ie, Coke pollutes India, so let's not buy their products). Conservatives, when they can be prodded to activism at all, will boycott on hot button domestic social issues, such as Ford advertising in gay magazines.

Maybe I'm hopelessly out of touch in my ivory tower, and never see the throngs of placard-weilding conservatives insisting corporations be held accountable for their actions (especially absent any government regulatory body holding them to account). Whatever, GO BLUE!!

University of Michigan
Suspends Coca-Cola Sales
Associated Press

December 30, 2005 10:43 a.m.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan suspended sales of Coca-Cola products on its three campuses over allegations that the company permits human rights and environmental abuses abroad.

The suspension, which begins Jan. 1, will affect vending machines, residence halls, cafeterias and campus restaurants. Coke's contracts with the university are worth about $1.4 million.

The university and the company said they will continue to negotiate.

"The University of Michigan is an important school, and I respect the way they worked with us on this issue," said Kari Bjorhus, a spokeswoman for The Coca-Cola Co., told the Detroit News. "We are continuing to try hard to work with the university to address concerns and assure them about our business practices."

Michigan's decision was prompted by a complaint last year from Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality. The student group accused Coke of draining local groundwater in India and conspiring with paramilitary groups in Colombia to harass and harm union members.
The company has repeatedly denied the allegations, which have prompted other schools to suspend sales.

The university, which has more than 50,000 students, decided not to renew its contracts when Coke said it was unable to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to cooperate in an investigation of circumstances in Colombia. The university and several other colleges had offered to fund the investigation.

Ms. Bjorhus said Thursday that a pending civil lawsuit prevented the company from participating. In a statement on the company Web site, the company said allegations involving its operations in Colombia are false and the company has been "an exemplary member of the business community" there.


Blogger hurtleg said...

I have no issue with individuals choosing to buy or not buy a product/service based on any criteria they choose (cost, quality, the gender mix of its board of directors, etc). Those are individuals (or groups of individuals) voting with their wallet to make whatever point they wish.

I take issue with a small group of ivory tower elites using a state funded institution for their personal political agenda. I don't think this is what the tax payers of Michigan had in mind (and by extension, me, throught the federal funds and grants UM receives). The university should be teaching the next generation, not getting involved in politics. The individuals that attend or work at the university are free to do whatever they want (without taxpayer money).

3:31 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

I'm glad to see someone making some substantive stand, but I'm quite interested in what the replacement beverage records might be on human rights.

It would be nice to see a reverse boycott, in which more socially-acceptable products were encouraged to be purchased, rather than the current boycotts, although right now my family does not buy from Whole Foods, which sucks, because their food is yummy.

7:45 PM  

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