Cal Poly clubs Raise the Respect and Progressive Student Alliance will show a film about the corporate world at Philips Hall today at 6 p.m.
Entitled “The Corporation,” the film focuses on how corporations have become a dominant force around the world in terms of economics, politics and social life.
Mechanical engineering junior Andrew Scott, of the Progressive Student Alliance, explained how the corporations got to where they are today.
“Corporations are a huge part of everybody’s life, whether they know it or not,” Scott said. “A lot of people don’t know what they’re paying for when they buy something from the corporations.”
Scott noted how modern life was shaped by the existence of corporations. He said that the film portrays the influence of corporations in a largely negative way.
“All of our lives are based on corporations that have people working for them,” Scott said. “Almost everything we do is affected by corporations.”
Microbiology junior Jacqueline Chan thought that students, as part of the consumer market, should care what corporations are doing in order to get their products on the shelf. One such example is the Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co.
“Their chemicals contain a lot of chlorine, and if you burn or bury it, (chlorine) is still toxic,” Chan said. “We’re the ones who buy all these products, so it’s important for us to know the real price of each thing.”
She also said that Coca-Cola has engaged in shady business tactics in Colombia, such as hiring assassins to kill union leaders in that country as well as “having an impact on little villages” and others in less developed countries.
“A lot of these actions of the big corporations that nobody really questions are affecting these people in our own land as well as overseas,” Chan said.
Both Scott and Chan believed that the film had educational value by focusing on how corporations largely get away with exploiting workers along with resources and have almost no accountability.
“It’s happening all over the world, but a lot of U.S. and European corporations are involved,” Chan said. “They’ve expanded, and they’ve started to globalize.”
Chan noted that globalization by these entities has led to exploitation of the work force in developing countries as well as violations of human rights.
The filmmakers have interviewed 40 people, including CEOs and top-level executives from different types of industries. A Nobel Prize-winning economist, a management guru and even a corporate spy spoke their opinions in this film.
Chan also said that corporations could have a different agenda behind their operations.
“One corporation turned their farming tools into a military-type bulldozer, and that’s considered a human rights violation,” Chan said. “There’s no discrepancy as to who it runs over so a lot of civilians have been killed by that weapon.”
Based on that information, Chan believed that the film would show students what it feels like to be a corporation as well as learn about the history of this business model. She also wanted them to make wise decisions in the checkout line.
As a result, both clubs will also give out a free handbook during the event that explains the film’s arguments.
“We call it the consumer’s guide to ethical shopping,” Chan said. “If any student is shopping and they want to make an informative choice about something, then they can use the handbook for reference.”
Chan believed that corporations work best in a capitalist economy. However, she wanted people to be aware of what corporations do for the purposes of accountability.
“It’s really important to stay informed about these things that we are buying,” Chan said. “As consumers, if we were to take action, they would have to listen to us.”