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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Soda in the Stony Brook Market

    In order for any free market to function properly consumers have to have choices. Being able to choice between one type of product and a competitor keeps entrepreneurs thinking and innovating on how to keep price down and quality high. The formation of monopolies breaks down competition, and market forces cannot keep prices and quality in check.

    Stony Brook University has ensured that the free market forces do not apply to beverages served on campus. After ending a 10 year long contract with Coca Cola, we’re officially stuck with PepsiCo for another 10 years at prices the consumers have no control over.

    While the cost of a soda on campus probably isn’t going to break the bank, Stony Brook Students are helpless to the whims of the school. Rising food prices will affect the price of beverages and students will have a hard time choosing cheaper alternatives on campus. Drinking from the water fountain is the cheaper alternative, but it is not always the choicest option, in terms of desire or quality.

    Over the last couple of years, student groups have been pressuring administration to get Coca Cola off of the campus over accusations of human rights abuses in its South American factories. The school could not violate the contract, and so only responded to the desires of the students and their petitions in deciding not to renew a contract.

    Social issues are just important as product price and quality when choosing a product, but in our case, students could not have possibly made this choose for themselves. Because consumers did not have control over their markets, they could not choose a competitor product. Student groups had to focus on petitioning school officials rather than informing fellow students. Rather than a quick switch in the market to a competitor product, as would be possible off-campus, students had to run organized campaigns to try to convince administrators to give the students what they wanted.

    This demonstrates the power of the free market to respond to the desires of consumers. Give people a choice and they’ll decide what’s best for themselves, which results in decreasing costs and increasing freedoms to the consumer base. At Stony Brook, and many other campuses, students are effectively helpless in choosing what type of soda we want to drink. We managed to get rid of Coke products, but now we are stuck in a potentially similar situation with Pepsi for the next 10 years. By ending the contract with Coke, the University made the student body temporarily happy, but they didn’t solve the real problem. The allegations against Coke are significant, but as students, the real problem is that we have virtually no way to directly affect how the issue is dealt with. We must grovel at the feet of administrators and politicians, and then only to get a new exclusive contract with a different multinational corporation. What if a similar situation arises with Pepsi next year? We’ll be stuck with the same problem. Though it may seem a bit inconsequential to argue about free market forces as it applies to a soft drink on our campus, these types of issues can have significant outcomes, especially if allegations of human rights abuses prove to be true. In addition, as students who are also consumers, we need to realize how monopolies affect our choices and our wallets. School-sponsored monopolies limits our freedoms and options and restricts our ability to express our opinions through the power of purchases.

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