Two weeks ago, the Campus Times editorial team criticized the SodaStream project as being a gross display of consumerism that interferes with our campus community.
My intention is not to defend the “suspicious” SodaStream, but simply to discuss some issues I’ve noticed with the general argument raised by this piece.
First, I must address the fact that no one is complaining about the Pepsi soda machines in the Pit that we pay for, or the ones in our dining halls. The SodaStream machines are essentially the same thing, just providing a different product. So what’s the big deal? This sounds like a double standard to me.
Second, the article presents information in such a way that makes it seem as if PepsiCo replaced the water fountains with these SodaStream machines, forcing students to buy their product instead of water. This is not the case. You claim it is a scam to get people to pay for water that is normally free, but they are offering a completely different product. Sparkling water fans (a population which I am not a part of) would be buying their drinks out of one of the fridges anyway, which creates more waste and costs more money (usually about $2, which makes your sinful “25 cents a pop” for the SodaStream sound pretty good if you ask me). It’s not in any way a scam to make you pay for water, it is an entirely different product, and — again — everyone still has access to the free water fountains. Refusing to use the SodaStream machines and drinking from the water fountains isn’t a political statement, and it doesn’t make you better than those who choose to buy PepsiCo’s product. Your argument here makes absolutely no sense.
I understand that capitalism sucks and we all want to renounce and criticize it at every chance, but we live in corporate America. It’s not going away any time soon — it’s just not realistic. And to your credit, you addressed the same sentiment in the article, yet continued to complain anyway. It’s not really an “obscene display” at all; it’s not like they placed giant machines in the middle of the library with “Pepsi” in all caps flashing above it. Regardless, I don’t think you can expect much else from anything in America. I understand what you tried to do with this argument, but it fell short and, frankly, it is a waste of time to be mad about product placement when you yourself are a culprit, too. No one complains when a rich alumni funds a new engineering building in exchange for their name being advertised on the side of it. How did you even hear about UR? Probably advertising. What do you think career fairs are? More advertising. LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and websites are all ways of advertising yourself to others. And by your logic, CT should remove all of its ads as well.
You claim that the career fairs and alumni advertising is okay because “we get something out of it,” but that’s a double standard and leaves me wondering who determines what qualifies as a quality gift. Also, UR is most likely not making money off of these machines directly, rather just receiving funds and donations from whatever contract they signed with PepsiCo, meaning they don’t necessarily have a say in product placement. PepsiCo funded the entire “Pepsi Plaza” dining area in the Pit and no one had a problem with that. So, this “UR, we already paid you” argument also falls flat.
To reiterate, PepsiCo is not holding a monopoly on the water — they are providing an alternative for those who enjoy sparkling water. This is not a crime. And of course the app only provides feedback for their product; why would you expect anything else? It’s a PepsiCo app, so if you don’t want PepsiCo shoved down your throat, don’t download their app. It’s that simple. There are plenty of apps out there that track your daily water intake if you are so inclined. Or you can do the math yourself.
I was disappointed in this article. It sounded like college students looking for something to complain about and then turning it into argument-less journalism, and I know CT can do better. If you really care about the student body, the sense of community, and how we are being treated, consider doing a better job of presenting facts about the situation and not just loaded language with your personal opinions of consumerism embedded in this weak argument.