The campus community is preparing for a heated debate as students, faculty and staff get ready to meet with President Leslie E. Wong and the Pouring Rights Review Committee Nov. 19 to discuss whether SF State should sign a pouring rights agreement.
“We pride ourselves on our students’ passion and willingness to speak out on issues they care deeply about,” Wong said in an email. “I look forward to meeting with our student community and other members of our campus community next week to hear their concerns and feedback.”
The town hall meeting will take place Thursday from 12 to 2 p.m. at the Seven Hills Conference Center on campus and is open to everyone.
This semester, the question of whether the University should sign a pouring rights agreement has been a charged issue for the SF State community, sparking several protests, rallies and outreach events in opposition to the agreement.
Rosie Linares, executive advisor of the Real Food Challenge at SF State, said that the meeting with Wong is being held in response to the recent acts of opposition.
“I would argue that the Coca Cola (and) Pepsi open forums were hardly accessible or open to the public considering they were in the Library – a designated quiet space – and tucked away on the second floor, with no public announcement from the University through email or otherwise,” Linares said in an email. “For these reasons, we demanded a public town hall with President Wong.”
RFC member Celia Lobuono Gonzalez said earlier this semester that a significant issue at SF State is the lack of shared governance. The request for proposals, which was sent to major soda brands in March, was drafted and finalized without the campus community’s awareness or input, she said.
“It hurts. It really hurts, and I feel, we feel, that (a pouring rights agreement) goes against the strategic plan – the goals (and) the identity that SF State says it’s about,” Gonzalez said.
The RFC has created an official resolution against the potential pouring rights deal at SF State, according to the group’s president, An Bui. More than 19 student organizations, as well as Associated Students, Inc., have endorsed the resolution.
The text of the resolution demands that SF State stop all negotiations with major soda brands for a possible pouring rights deal.
Bui, 19, said that the town hall meeting with Wong Thursday is a vital first step in achieving a united administration on campus.
“RFC expects President Wong to officially stop all pouring rights negotiations indefinitely,” Bui said in an email, “and start to work with (ASI) and faculty to outline a shared governance process on campus.”
According to Phoebe Dye, who is the president of ASI, students were frustrated that they had no involvement in SF State’s decision, which is why many have been protesting the possible pouring rights agreement.
“The students made it clear that no one sought their input on whether or not they would even like to see pouring rights on campus, and that they would like to see all negotiations stop until such input is appropriately given,” Dye said in an email. “Shared governance was lacking here, and students aren’t going to see that continue.”
SF State is the only school in the California State University system currently without a pouring rights contract in place, according to a Facebook post by the RFC.
Both California State University, Sacramento and California State University, East Bay have pouring rights contracts with PepsiCo Inc., according to Elisa Smith, Sacramento State’s interim director of news and communications, and Martin Castillo, Cal State East Bay’s associate vice president of student affairs.
“SF State is currently evaluating whether partnering with a beverage company, which is common at many colleges and universities, would be of benefit to our campus and our students,” Wong said. “The input of our students, faculty and staff is incredibly important to this process, and as we proceed, I am committed to listening to all members of the campus community with an open mind.”
Jonathan Morales, a member of the Pouring Rights Review Committee, said in an email that University officials are committed to listening to what the campus community has to say about this issue.
“The committee has not met since the public presentations last month, and has been focused on making sure that all students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to provide feedback on this issue,” Morales said. “Hearing from our community is a crucial part of the committee’s evaluation, and (the) town hall meeting is a continuation of that process.”
Timeline by Linda Karlsson