Undergrads: Still Fiending for Coke

Everyone knows soda is bad for your teeth, but are some sodas bad for your conscience as well? Harvard’s Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM), which raises awareness of workers’ rights and labor issues on campus with its “Right to Organize” project, has turned its attention to the Coca-Cola Corporation and its “horrendous violations...of fundamental human rights,” says SLAM member Adaner Usmani ’08. SLAM wants Harvard to wash its hands of alleged dirty dealings, and has demanded that the university cancel its contracts with the corporation and stop serving Coca-Cola products in its dining halls.

But for many Harvard students, Coca-Cola and Diet Coke have addictive powers rivaling those of that other “coke.” But how many Coke junkies can really tell the difference between the Classic and other cola varieties? SLAM suggests replacing Coke with a smaller brand, but a blind taste-test suggests the switch may not be as smooth and refreshing as organizers hope.

FM’s spread in Eliot dining hall featured Boylan’s Cane Cola, Tab, A.J. Stephan’s Sarsparilla, and Malta Goya alongside big names Coke and Pepsi. While a few students chose the cup of Pepsi as their favorite, 70% of those polled picked Coke as their drink of choice.

Many students agreed with SLAM’s sentiment, but doubted the practicality of a switch from Coke. Larissa D. Koch ’08 says “There are enough people who are very thoroughly attached that there would be significant protest.” Usmani, for his part, says Coke-lovers have “a valid point,” but adds, “I have faith in Harvard students. I don’t think anyone can turn their back.” Unfortunately for SLAM, neither Harvard students nor the Harvard administration show signs of kicking the habit.