Thursday, April 10, 2014

Have an education and a smile!

My university has an exclusive contract with a major soda company and we have been reminded more than once that only certain cola products may be served at official events!  Even if the prof pays out of his/her own pocket.  This is an imagined official memo describing the policy.

-- Middle Aged and Morose

A reminder to all faculty and staff that Stuffy University has an exclusive contract with the Big Cola Company to supply all beverages for official events sponsored by the university. Accordingly, faculty are reminded that classes and office hours are both “official” university activities and so beverages produced by companies other than Big Cola are not to be consumed during class or office hours. This includes beverages brought from home such as coffee or tea.  Faculty and staff may consume non-Big Cola products in their private vehicles while arriving or departing from campus, but are requested to keep all containers below window-level so that they may not be observed from those outside the vehicle. When driving between campuses only Big Cola products may be consumed.

In order to further cement the university’s relationship with Big Cola, some additional measures will be implemented.

Faculty and staff coffee machines will be removed immediately.

Faculty are required to bring a full bottle of a Big Cola product to every class. The bottle must be displayed prominently so that the entire class will see it for the entire duration of the class session. The choice of container size and the specific brand to be displayed are up to the discretion of the individual instructor, but the 20 oz. size is recommended as being both easy to transport while still being large enough for students throughout the classroom to see.  The instructor need not consume the product in class, although this is encouraged.

Reimbursement for work-related expenses will no longer be paid in cash, but will be reimbursed with Big Cola products. Reimbursement forms will be updated to allow faculty and staff to request a specific product.  Only one product will be distributed per request, however, when submitting multiple reimbursement requests, you may request a different Big Cola product for each individual form.

The university mascot will be replaced by the Big Cola Penguin, and the school colors will be changed to the Big Cola Company colors-- green, black and teal.

While we at Stuffy honor academic freedom, all professors are strongly encouraged to incorporate Big Cola products into their lessons. For example, a chemistry class might include the famous “dropping a Mentos into a bottle of Big Cola” experiment. Philosophy and Theology classes might discuss the morality of serving guests a product made by a company other than Big Cola, which by definition would be inferior. History classes might discuss the history of the Big Cola Company as a prime example of the international success of an iconic American company. Classes designed for our student athletes might consider scheduling burping contests using Big Cola products. The provost will be examining a random selection of syllabi to monitor instructors’ conformance with this request.

Finally, we regret that after last month’s regrettable counterfeit label incident, the administration has authorized campus security to examine the contents of bottles and cans at random to ensure that only genuine Big Cola products are being consumed on campus. Also, faculty and staff are now required to consume beverages from their original container. Individual glasses, mugs, cups, etc. may not be used to consume liquids. They may be retained to store pencils, paper clips, and such items.

We thank you for your cooperation in this matter. Working together with Big Cola we are certain that Stuffy University will continue its march into the future as an example to educational facilities worldwide.

Mr. Pibb, Campus Cola Councilor


  1. Man, I try to avoid soda and a policy like that would totally have me bringing in Slightly Less Big Cola (or Slightly Bigger) out of my own pockets.
    Having proffies drink the stuff in class might actually hurt the brand for students, though . . .

  2. While I wouldn't go to the mat for my freedom to serve my students whatever sort of cola I chose (in part because I don't habitually feed or hydrate my students; that's their responsibility), telling faculty members on what they can and can't spend their own money strikes me as crossing a line. One could, I suppose, frame this as the right for adjuncts to bring their classes crappy generic soda come evaluation time, because that's all they can afford, but students might actually react worse to crappy generic soda than no soda (at my very fancy grad institution, one friend actually got a complaint on her evals because she'd brought archway rather than pepperidge farm cookies. That made me glad that I didn't bring cookies at all.)

    And universities getting too thoroughly in bed with other brands seem to be missing the fact that they're seriously cheapening their own brand in the process. Admittedly, I'm pretty sure that my own campus is officially a one-big-soda-vendor campus (at least I don't think I remember seeing the other brand for sale anyway), but at least it's pretty much invisibly so, and I hope that will remain the case.

    Also, as with over-testing/assessment and education degrees and dubious methods of measuring merit for salary purposes, it seems like product placement is an idea that universities are adapting just as K-12 schools are beginning to realize just how bad an idea the practice is.

  3. "Art classes will be required to have only Big Cola products in their still-life drawings which will be exhibited in the President's office during Big Cola executive visits."

    1. "Life drawing class models will be required to hold said products over their 'private parts' for said exhibitions in the President's office."

  4. Aw, c'mon. Burping contests? It isn't April 1, but this can't be real. Even I, a science geek, can see that---although I'm ashamed to admit that I had to read that far to realize it.

    Although every semester in my Intro Astronomy class, I do bring a can of a recognizable cola, to shake and to illustrate what would happen to liquid water on the surface of Mars...

    1. Now you know why astronauts wear space suits. The same thing would happen to your blood, in the vacuum of space. You'd black out due to lack of oxygen in about 30 seconds, and be dead of a pulmonary embolism---in other words, the bends---within 10 minutes.

  5. I got your prominently displayed bottle right here. The memo says nothing about defacing the labels.

    I know the memo is only imagined, but Poe's Law is in play here. I can't use Big Cola's direct competitors' products at "official" events? Mmmm, okay I suppose. I can't drink coffee or tea instead of Big Cola products? NOT OK. And I'm bringing my own water bottle from home. Go ahead, come after me. You get to tell me what specific food I put into my body when I get to tell you into which orifice you can cram your contractually-obligated Dell or Macbook or Nike or whatever.

  6. I know of only two vending machines on our campus, and both have Gatorade or Powerade or whatever-ade I don't want to drink. I suppose I can be thankful we haven't sold our souls to the cola industry just yet.

  7. True story: a few years ago a new fitness specialty month was created by a prestigious national exercise consortium. My class wanted to promote said event, but alas! no college funds. But wait, we have Big Cola #1 in town, and they are a national sponsor of said event. But alas! the college is in bed with Big Cola #2, so we ended up not being able to get sponsorship. Awesome work for the students, college admin!

  8. As a student I voted against something similar to this, though not quite as absurd, but unfortunately many students were swayed by the promise of free stuff if they bought a lot of Big Cola on campus.