CMU Senate Coke ban request unreasonable
Last week, sophomore directing major John Moriarity spoke to Student Senate on behalf of the “Anything But Coke” protest group.
“Anything But Coke” encourages participants to boycott Coca-Cola products in opposition to the Coca-Cola company’s sponsorship of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
With Russia’s opposition to gay rights and freedoms, this group views Coke-Cola’s sponsorship of the events as taking a stance against gay rights.
Moriarity encouraged Student Senate to vote to formally recommend to the university that campus stores cease the sale of Coca-Cola products for the duration of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Senate approved the motion and will be following the recommendation.
This recommendation is an ineffective form of protest and violates the consumer rights of Carnegie Mellon students. If students wish to boycott the products of the Coca-Cola company, they can do so voluntarily.
However, these actions make those who are not in full support of the “Anything But Coke” protest participate without choice. If a campus group opposed the use of contraception and tried to ban Entropy+ from selling condoms, that would be unacceptable.
Unless the store owner refuses to carry an item in his or her shop, another group should not have the power to ban others from purchasing it.
Additionally, the selection of Coca-Cola as the sole product to protest makes little sense. Visa sponsors the 2014 Winter Olympics, yet protesters are not trying to prevent campus stores from accepting Visa cards.
The Olympics are often viewed as an international competition that raises national spirits and can bring representatives of the world together. The fact that they are hosted in a nation that does not support gay rights is troubling, and the Russian government should face immense international pressure to alter this stance.
However, these games are not the first that have been hosted in a country that did not respect the rights of all people, and Coca-Cola is just one of many sponsors for the athletic competitions.
This sponsorship does not necessarily indicate a support of Russian political policies, and banning individuals from the ability to make their own purchasing choices is an unacceptable option to protest gay persecution in Russia.