Protest sparks action from President Wong
Associated Students, Inc. will host a town hall meeting Wednesday, Oct. 21 from noon to 2 p.m. at Malcolm X Plaza to discuss a potential pouring rights agreement at SF State, according to Liana Derus from the Environmentally Concerned Organization of Students.
The meeting comes after a student protest in J. Paul Leonard Library last week, when more than 30 students marched against the pouring rights agreement and demanded a meeting with President Leslie E. Wong.
Wong will not be attending the ASI meeting on Wednesday, but according to Mary Ann Begley, the dean of students, Wong has agreed to meet with ASI.
“As promised, I did forward your group’s request onto the president asking for an open forum (or) town hall to discuss the concerns over pouring rights,” Begley said in an email to the Real Food Challenge Wednesday. “My understanding is that (ASI) will be working quickly to get the meeting arranged.”
Coca Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. were invited to campus Oct. 14 and 15 to answer questions from the Pouring Rights Review Committee and the campus community regarding a possible pouring rights contract with SF State. Xpress reported last week that a protest erupted among students and faculty during Coca Cola’s presentation Oct. 14.
“The University needs to cease and desist disrupting shared governance on campus,” said Celia LoBuono Gonzalez, a member of the Real Food Challenge at SF State. “(ASI) must participate in these policies before they go through. The (request for proposals) was sent out before anyone on campus was aware.”
The protesters wore duct tape with “silenced” written on it across their mouths and held hand-made signs reading “student power” high above their heads. An Bui, president of the Real Food Challenge, said they have written an official resolution to end the pouring rights agreement.
“Basically, what the resolution will say is one, stop all negotiations with the pouring rights contract, and two, have a town hall meeting with the president who is the one behind this contract,” Bui said. “Three, start the creation of a process where students and faculty are going to have an institutionalized process for these kind of decisions.”
According to the request for proposals, which was sent out to beverage companies in March, the selected partner will represent 100 percent of all fountain-dispensed beverage sales on campus and 80 percent of campus-wide retail shelf space.
University Corporation Executive Director Jason Porth said he attempted to keep the meeting with Coca Cola on track by asking students to save their comments for the end.
“I want to assure everyone that there will be an opportunity through a public process for people to engage in a discussion with the campus community to share their concerns and their perspectives,” Porth said. “We certainly welcome that.”
Phil Klasky, a lecturer in the department of ethnic studies, participated in the protest and said he disapproves of both Coca Cola and Pepsi on campus.
“I was searching for a word to describe the proposal to make a deal with Coke and Pepsi, and what I came upon was ‘perverse,’” Klasky said. “These companies prey upon low-income (communities) and communities of color and native peoples, contributing to an epidemic of diabetes, obesity and other dietary-related diseases.”
According to Klasky, University officials should take into consideration what is best for the campus by listening to students and conducting background research on the major soda companies.
“What price is the University prepared to place on the respect, integrity and reputation of our institution?” Klasky said. “And are you prepared to listen to the students? This is their University, and they don’t want this blood money.”