Protest erupts during Coca-Cola pouring rights forum

Students+oppose+the+sale+of+pouring+rights+at+SF+State+by+disrupting+a+town+hall+meeting++with+Coca-Cola%2C+a+potential+company+that+may+begin+supplying+all+beverages+on+campus+Wednesday%2C+Oct.+14%2C+2015.+%28Brian+Churchwell+%2F+Xpress%29

Students oppose the sale of pouring rights at SF State by disrupting a town hall meeting with Coca-Cola, a potential company that may begin supplying all beverages on campus Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Brian Churchwell / Xpress)

More than 30 students protested against SF State’s potential pouring rights agreement with Coca-Cola Co. at the J. Paul Leonard Library Wednesday.

The protesters demanded better communication from the University moving forward with the agreement, citing a lack of shared governance at SF State.

“We demand a public town hall forum with President (Leslie E.) Wong himself,” said Celia Lobuono Gonzalez, a member of the Real Food Challenge, after the group marched into the library room where the town hall meeting was held. “There’s a petition out there with more than 800 signatures, so we’re representing a much larger body.”

Students opposed to the sale of pouring rights at SF State chant while marching in the J. Paul Leonard Library, during a meeting with Coca-Cola, a potential company that may begin supplying all beverages on campus Wednesday, Oct. 14. (Brian Churchwell / Xpress)
Students opposed to the sale of pouring rights at SF State chant while marching in the J. Paul Leonard Library, during a meeting with Coca-Cola, a potential company that may begin supplying all beverages on campus Wednesday, Oct. 14. (Brian Churchwell / Xpress)

Students and faculty members joined in the protest, which was announced prior to the event through emails and Facebook posts.

Four representatives from Coca-Cola Co. attended the open forum meeting. The soda company’s prepared presentation was delayed by nearly 20 minutes due to the protest, as University Corporation Executive Director Jason Porth attempted to keep the meeting’s agenda on schedule.

Mary Beth Carpenter, region asset manager at Coca-Cola Co., said she was shocked by the student involvement at the meeting.

“I must say, this is a first for me, so if I’m a little nervous it’s just because it’s a first,” Carpenter said. “We value the right to free speech, so right on San Francisco for sharing your views.”

After reading a list of demands, the protesters marched out of the room and said they were not interested in hearing the beverage company’s presentation. The protesters demanded that the university run all major decisions that effect students through the Associated Students, Inc. on campus and asked to be invited to an open town hall meeting with Wong, to further discuss the pouring rights agreement.

Students opposed to the sale of pouring rights at SF State chant while marching in the J. Paul Leonard Library, for a meeting with Coca-Cola, a potential company that may begin supplying all beverages on campus Wednesday, Oct. 14. (Brian Churchwell / Xpress)
Students opposed to the sale of pouring rights at SF State chant while marching in the J. Paul Leonard Library, for a meeting with Coca-Cola, a potential company that may begin supplying all beverages on campus Wednesday, Oct. 14. (Brian Churchwell / Xpress)

Pepsi Co. will visit SF State for a second town hall meeting Thursday but according to An Bui, president of the Real Food Challenge, there will be no protest during tomorrow’s meeting.

Xpress will follow up with more details about the protest.