Coca Cola’s Green Week campus ‘pledge wall’ was cut short today after a number of students protested the company’s environmental and ethical history.
The protest, organised by the Brunel Green and Friends of Palestine Societies, was staged today outside the Hamilton Centre, where Coca Cola representatives had been invited on to campus to celebrate Green Week, an environmental awareness initiative set up by the Union of Brunel Students.
Despite the Green Week bill of events indicating that the Coca Cola Pledge Wall would be active until 4pm, by 2pm today Le Nurb understands that the Coca Cola representatives appeared to have left campus.
A group approximately twenty Brunel students held placards and led chants. One banner read: “Unthinkable, Undrinkable”.
Coca Cola has been accused by protestors of unethical practices and violating human rights laws, as well as having a poor environmental record. Read more here.
Coca Cola’s disappearance from campus despite having a slot booked until 4pm indicates that they may have left early as a result of the protest. The company was invited to take part in Green Week by Union representatives VP Community Welfare Leon Evans and Environmental Chair Mehvish Maghribi. The pair was challenged at Student Assembly last month by students asking whether it was ethical to invite a company with such a bad track record concerning the environment to promote their products at an event designed to increase environmental awareness and sustainability.
Protest organiser and Union Societies Guild Chair Ali Milani said:
“Today, Brunel students were successful in reminding their Union of their ethical responsibilities. As a result of the Friends of Palestine and Brunel Green Societies’ demonstration, Coca Cola have decided to leave our campus. This serves as a reminder to our Students’ Union that ethics matter to our students and that we have passionate, committed students ready to stand up for what’s right.”
Coca Cola products are sold in vending machines across campus and retailers such as Costcutter, Social Kitchen and Costa.
Update 21:52: UBS Environmental Chair Mehvish Maghribi has asked Le Nurb to print the following statement in response to the protest:
“The ‘macho’ atmosphere of our Student Union, exemplified by Monday’s protest where women were in a vast minority, and the inappropriate behaviour of a handful of officers and chairs in recent weeks, has made the Union a hostile and negative place to be a volunteer.
“Giving my spare time to campaigning on environmental issues is my way of contributing to make things better at Brunel.
“Instead, these male dominated groups have publicly harassed me on Twitter, denounced my character to groups of students, and ignored my repeated requests for help.
“The last option I have is to go public with my concerns and experiences in the hope of changing the way a majority of students at Brunel see female leaders.”