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ISSUE 116 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/1/2002

Ecopledge activists losing touch

By Jonathon Foster
Staff Writer


Friday, November 1, 2002

A student dressed as a giant Pepsi bottle recently greeted students outside the cafeteria. This was the latest ploy by Ecopledge to draw attention to their cause. Using similar tactics, Ecopledge has become the most visible protest group on campus.

They have held a press conference and have harassed students until they signed petitions. They have hung up so many flyers (hopefully reprinted on recycled paper) around campus that they actually might be doing more harm than good.

The world is far from perfect. In past years, idealistic college students have sacrificed their time, energy, and (in some cases) their lives to make the world a better place. Back then, college students used to protest against segregation and war by holding marches and staging sit-ins. St. Olaf's young idealists, on the other hand, have chosen to send Pepsi bottles to Pepsi's corporate head quarters.

Ecopledge should realize that this is not very practical. There are no Pepsi vending machines on campus, which causes a sizeable problem in the collection of bottles. It is comparable to holding a protest in Fiji against the high cost of heating oil. Also, with the money spent on collecting, publicizing, and shipping the bottles, a nearby prairie could have been restored, several trees planted, or food bought for a food shelf.

Instead of choosing a cause that will have a substantial impact on people's lives, Ecopledge’s has chosen to fight something that causes no one real harm. Meanwhile, there are many thing worth protesting that no one seems to know or care about, including:

The United States is contemplating going to war with Iraq. According to many experts, the expected casualties to American military personnel will be the most since the Vietnam War. On the other hand, Iraq may use weapons of mass destruction against the US and its allies unless there is military intervention.

Whatever the outcome may be, it will affect all Americans. Whether for or against US policy, people should speak out. The issue is too important to remain indifferent about. (Thankfully some students have chosen to voice their opinion on this issue; however playing hacky sack in front of a large peace sign might not be the best way to force change.)

Each year the United States gives Israel billions of dollars. Using this money, Israel has built one of the strongest armies in the world. The United States continues to support Israel because the presence of the Israeli army helps to protect US interests.

However, Israel also uses its army to oppress the Palestinians. According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the current situation in Israel is almost identical to that of South Africa under apartheid.

Prescription drug prices have been one of the most important issues in this year campaigns. Much has been made of the high cost these days. However, this is also an international issue. Last year 360,000 people died of AIDS last year in South Africa alone. Many suffering from AIDS are left untreated because they are unable to afford the drugs. The drug companies justify the high costs by explaining that the high cost of drugs enables them to advance their research into new, more affective drugs.

There are also several more local issues including the lack of affordable housing in the Twin Cities metro area, police brutality against mentally ill individuals, and racial tensions at their highest level in several years.

There are a lot of ways to solve these problems. The easiest way to voice an opinion in this country is to vote. Sadly, the US census found that only 54.7% of eligible voters voted in the 2000 election and that only 63.9% are even registered to vote. Do not be one of the millions that do not care enough to exercise their right that millions around the world fight for.

Sit down this weekend and research the candidates. And if you happen to be thirsty while doing this, drink a nice cold bottle of coke. Boycotts have always been more affective than mailing bottles.





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