Smith College Kicks Coca-Cola Off Campus
For Immediate Release
May 30, 2007
New Delhi (May 30, 2007): In another victory for the International Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable, Smith College in the US has decided not to renew its contract with the Coca-Cola company.
The president of Smith College, Carol T. Christ, made the announcement in a letter to Coca-Cola yesterday.
The decision by Smith College specifically bars the Coca-Cola company from participating in the upcoming soft drink bidding process. Coca-Cola's seven year contract with Smith College expires on August 31, 2007.
"In light of Coca-Cola's business practices in Colombia and India, Smith will preclude Coca-Cola from the list of approved bidders when we enter the contract renewal process later this summer," said President Christ in the letter.
The Coca-Cola company's operations in India have led to severe water shortages for thousands of people living in the vicinity of its bottling plants, and government studies have confirmed dumping of toxic waste around its plants. Communities across India have challenged the company's practices, and one of Coca-Cola's largest bottling plants in India has been shut down since March 2004 because of community opposition. The company has been accused of complicity in the murder, torture and intimidation of trade union organizers in Colombia.
Students in the US, UK and Canada are playing a key role in applying pressure on the Coca-Cola company for its abuses in India and Colombia.
"This is another step closer to justice for communities in India reeling from Coca-Cola's practices which are destroying their lives and livelihoods," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center. "We are confident that given the facts, people will think before they drink Coca-Cola."
Smith College joins an increasing number of colleges and universities that have refused to do business with the Coca-Cola company until it cleans up its act. Just in the last six months, Swarthmore College in the US, University of Guelph in Canada and University of Manchester in England have all taken actions to remove Coca-Cola from their campuses.
The three year student campaign at Smith College to remove Coca-Cola was coordinated by the Coke Off Campus group. The college set up the Soft Drink Advisory Committee, which included faculty, staff and students, to look deeper into the issues in India and Colombia.
The Soft Drink Advisory Committee recommended not renewing Coca-Cola's contract in April, and the Coca-Cola company sought a meeting with the committee to present their side.
Smith College officials were not impressed with Coca-Cola's presentation, noting that "a significant majority of the committee did not feel that Coca-Cola responded persuasively to the committee's questions and concerns."
The Coca-Cola company, meanwhile, has hired an organization that it funds in India, the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), to conduct an "independent" study of its bottling operations in India. The study has been rejected by groups in India because of the obvious conflict of interest issues that present itself.
Smith College's announcement can be found at http://www.smith.edu/newsoffice/releases/Coca-Cola.html
For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org
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