Opinion: UWF goes crazy for Coke, but is that a good thing?

By Alicia Adams
Staff Writer

Welcome to 2017, an age where the most riveting news on a university campus is the introduction of a new product to the vending machines.

As of March 13, the University of West Florida “proudly welcomed” Coca-Cola to the campus as its new beverage provider, as stated on the massive banner at the entrance to campus.

Huge Coca-Cola banner at UWF campus entrance. Coca-Cola is the new beverage provider at UWF Photo By Alicia Adams

According to the UWF website, this change was a result of an Invitation to Negotiate process, which in turn gave Coca-Cola the “beverage vending and pouring rights contract.”

Coke installed new beverage vending machines as well as fountain and bottle beverage equipment across campus during Spring Break. The vending machines accept Nautilus Cards as well as credit and debit cards, and of course, cash.

They even brought in a “Hug Me” machine for one day in the University Commons, outside the Nautilus Market, where students received a free can of Coke if they hugged the machine.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Coke girl all the way. However, there are a couple things that bother me about this situation:

  1. Several times within the past week, the products from the machines have been warm. Students even reported the temperature on a specific machine reading 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. The machines now offer giant cans of Monster energy drinks.

 

First, it’s obviously not OK for brand-new machines to be having cooling issues, especially to this extent. According to the laws on food vending machine operators, the Department of Public Health regulates that beverages within vending machines “must be kept at temperature of 45 degrees F, or below.” Not off to a great start, Coke.

Secondly, I’m uncomfortable with the fact that our school now offers large cans of dangerous energy drinks to their students. According to a study done by Consumer Affairs, “roughly 31 percent of adolescents from ages 12 to 19 consume energy drinks on a regular basis.”

The excessive amounts of sugar and caffeine in these drinks can aggravate underlying heart issues, causing fatal arrhythmias, the study found.

“Of the 5,448 caffeine overdoses reported in the United States in 2007, 46 percent of them occurred in people under the age of 19,” according to Consumer Affairs.

According to the Coke website, their energy drinks have about 200 milligrams of caffeine per 16-ounce can. The recommended safe daily allowance of caffeine for adults over age 18 is 400 milligrams, according to the Caffeine Informer website.

Students might feel like they need beverages such as Monster or Red Bull to keep up with the high demands of college. However, this is a serious and possibly life-threatening problem that needs to be addressed by the administration. Instead, they are catering to it.

A student interacting with the “Hug Me” machine. The machine was brought onto campus to help promote the new Coco-Cola vending machines. Photo by Alicia Adams

The main issue, however, is the fact that people across campus are going nuts about this change. Some people are happy, some aren’t. Regardless, it’s the hottest topic of conversation around the university.

The Coke-versus-Pepsi debate has been going on forever and will probably never cease. In 2011, Coke held 17 percent of the U.S. soda market, and Pepsi held 9.2 percent, according to Beverage Digest.

Regardless of your preferred soda choice, the rising rate of obesity in college students – 29.2 percent in 2011, according to Rasmussen College – should make young adults realize that there are more serious things to talk about than the newest soda vendor.