Despite the vocal protests of many students and student groups, Concordia University has followed through with signing an exclusivity beverage contract with PepsiCo, thereby assuring that the vending machines around campus will continue to be stocked with the company’s products, including bottled water.
While the contract currently allows for plastic water bottles to be distributed, Concordia’s director of media relations Chris Mota said that the university would consider including a clause in the future to make Concordia a bottled water-free campus.
Initially, the contract was slated to be signed sometime in November, but it was unexpectedly pushed ahead to the last week of October. This left members of the CSU as well as groups such as TAPthirst feeling that the school’s administration had conducted these moves in a backdoor manner, choosing to bypass student input. CSU president, Heather Lucas, called it “problematic, because there is a clear inconsistency in what we were being told. “
In a last ditch effort to stall the signing of the exclusivity contract, TAPthirst co-founder Laura Beach served several members of the administration with a mise en demeure, a sort of ultimatum that can precede a lawsuit, citing what she felt was a “breach of trust.”
Beach claims to possess evidence that shows the administration agreed that no negotiations or decisions would be made with PepsiCo until after student representatives were met with, prompting her decision to serve the mise en demeure.
She also stated that the administration “not only broke that promise, but then publicly denied making that promise in the first place” at the meeting on Wednesday and in the signing of the contract with PepsiCo.
“I would really like to see something positive to come out of this situation,” Beach said. “This situation has provided a really good opportunity to look at the processes within the university in regards to purchasing and sourcing and contracts with outside companies.”The contract was signed at some point on Friday at an undisclosed location according to Mota, who refused to name who from the university signed the contract, stating that it was “irrelevant.”
In what can only be called unfortunately coincidental timing, Pepsi can now be seen on campus in the atrium of the MB building. There, company representatives have set up a photo booth where students can have their picture taken set to a background of their choosing to promote any cause they feel worthy, from homelessness to spaying stray cats. The presentations would be eligbible for grants for textbooks, tuition and charities of the students’ choice.
The space was rented by Concordia’s Ukrainian Student Union’s president Vivian Zabuga, and then rented to PepsiCo at an inflated rate. CUSC had been planning this event for over a month and had not planned for it to coincide with the contested exclusivity contract signing. “It was just really bad timing,” said Zabuga. “We had to hire security and if a protest did break out then we were prepared to pack up quietly and leave.”