University of Minnesota Must Use Influence to Seek Global Justice

The Minnesota Daily
November 15, 2005

The University needs to take into account the international fallout of relationships.

The University is proud to be a school working with international communities. From study abroad programs to courting business with China to enrolling hundreds of international students, the University aims to have global reach. That positive influence should be extended to the contracts the University signs with international corporations. The most obvious example is Coca-Cola, which has been accused of having union leaders murdered at its Colombian bottling plants and stealing water from villages in India. Despite this and the growing list of international injustices, the University continues to deal with the Coca-Cola Company and has not brought a public demand to Coca-Cola.

The University has acted with a global mind-frame in the past. In 2000, then-President Mark Yudof signed a statement regarding sweatshop practices and announced that the University would be joining the Worker Rights Consortium. The University can do the same concerning deals with other international corporations.

The University has the influence, it must use it.

In the case of Coca-Cola, the University should demand that it cease supporting bottling operations that intimidate and murder union workers. The University must also demand that Coca-Cola stop the theft of water by contracted bottling plants in India.

The University has already made positive steps for fair-trade coffee; it must make further steps elsewhere.

President Bob Bruininks would do well to follow the steps taken by his predecessor and act to make the University a supporter of global justice and stop supporting corporations with such documented international human rights violations.

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