Coke croaks

UVM has a serious Coke addiction. And you may too, whether you realize it or not. Your Minute Maid orange juice, your Vitamin Water and your Dasani bottle that draws heckles from nature-saving hippies are all examples of Coca-Cola products UVM students consume on a regular basis. It’s hard not to use Coca-Cola products while residing on this campus. If you have a meal plan, you are assured to come across a few. Coca-Cola company virtually has a monopoly on the UVM market. That means they can charge $2.69 for most drinks — a price that’s sure to leave most of The Cynic staff calling home for more points by Halloween. The lack of competition is unhealthy for students’ and parents’ wallets alike; it leaves them dangerously thin. If you couple that with the fact that UVM has to pay penalties if Coca-Cola sales slip by 10 percent, it seems as though the administration is force-feeding us Coke and telling us we like it. Why is UVM penalized if students suddenly lose interest in Coke? Doesn’t that seem more like Coca-Cola’s problem, and not the University’s? The relationship between the two parties seems like an uneven one. UVM gets to pay for Coke products, and then UVM gets to pay if nobody buys the Coke products. On the anti-Coca-Cola side of the debate is an organization called Killer Coke. While The Cynic may not buy into the allegations of Coca-Cola ordering hits on Colombian union leaders, we do agree many of Coke’s business practices are suspect, to say the least. As the news article “Coke’s contract renewal on the rocks” said that Coke is blamed for severe water shortages in India and other “unethical business violations.” Even the allegations of such human rights violations are enough to turn the tide against Coca-Cola at a school with such a liberal student body as UVM. The door should be opened for more competition at UVM. Bringing in Coca-Cola’s rivals would help drive down costs for students. Right now, it seems that Coke can charge whatever prices they please because they control the market. A contract with Coke may help UVM pinch pennies, but it drains students’ points. Also, if VSTEP succeeds in ridding UVM of all bottled water, it wouldn’t make sense to keep a contract with Coke, because the University would be paying penalties due to the reduction of Coke sales. The Cynic believes UVM should consider opening the market to competition, rather than staying with a flawed Coca-Cola relationship. Just because it’s the only thing we’ve ever known, doesn’t mean it’s the only option out there.