U. gets money, gives up choice

Print Staff and Print Staff

There is something different in the newsroom.

For countless years, there was a constant sight just around the corner from our offices in 210 West Hall. When it came to liquid refreshment, we knew what the choices were.

That has changed, and not just in the newsroom.

All over campus, the old beverage vending machines have given way to the shiny new Pepsi versions. Over the short winter break, Coca-Cola lost its bid to provide beverages to this campus.

On the upside, the University has picked up $1.1 million from Pepsi for these rights. That’s akin to 110 new students paying for tuition, room and board, without overcrowding classrooms and dorms.

Student organizations will also receive funding from this deal. For the next four years, Pepsi will pour $43,000 into our extra-curricular activities along with $10,000 worth of Pepsi products. Year five will net student organizations only $21,500; still, that isn’t too shabby.

In addtion to the money, Pepsi doesn’t have a complete monopoly over the beverage choice. About twenty percent of the liquid refreshment sold on campus will likely come from American Bottling Company, makers of Snapple, 7UP and the New Age beverages.

So why do we still feel a sense of apprehension and wariness over this contract?

To begin with, we are used to living in America. We have been raised in the United States, home of capitalism and land of the free market. When we go to a store, we buy what we like and what we want. Our choice is a monetary vote for a company’s product.

That means it feels strangely un-American to go into a store and not have an unlimited amount of choices.

But it doesn’t just resonate with our innate patriotism. In this day and age, very few college students want to seem beholden to corporate interests. This is supposed to be an educational enterprise. We don’t want our administration or student organizations to begin to rely upon corporate money to do their particular activities.

This is supposed to be an educational enterprise. We pay a large amount of money to attend classes, participate in student organizations and earn a degree or two. This deal now adds another item to that list. We are paying to be a captive market for the Pepsi corporation. Pepsi does not see this University as a place of education. We are an investment and a profit generator. Each student is a possible convert into a loyal consumer of a Pepsi product.

The biggest concern comes from a single question. This contract is going to last for five years, when most of us will be gone. How reliant on corporate money is BGSU going to be when the contract expires?

What is going to happen after that fifth year?