Grad Club/Coke deal spurs petition
By Laura Katsirdakis
OR PEPSI? AT THE GRAD CLUB, THERE IS ONLY ONE CHOICE.
Carly Weeks, a master’s in journalism student,
grabs a Coke from the vending machine in Middlesex College
A petition currently being circulated implores the Society
of Graduate Students not to go through with an exclusive deal
between the Grad Club and Coca-Cola.
The petition — in addition to discouraging the deal — asked
supporters to boycott the Grad Club (with the specific exception
of its fair trade coffee), should the deal go through.
“Coke’s labour standards have been among the worst
criticized of the world’s transnational corporations
for discrimination, human rights violations, underpaying employees
and culminating with, most recently, deaths and death threats
to Colombian workers attempting to institute a union at Coca-Cola
bottling plants,” the petition stated.
According to Chris Stroud, a graduate student involved with
the collection of signatures, the petition has had significant
success in its preliminary attempt to gain support.
“When regular patrons found out about this decision,
many were dismayed. As opponents of the deal point out, Coke
has an appalling record of human rights abuses around the world.”
He noted that the contract was sent back to Coke due to a
technical problem, giving opponents of the deal more time to
galvanize support. Stroud expressed a hope of having an emergency
meeting, but said this would require a request from 100 graduate
“[The deal] would provide $5,000 per year for five years,” said
SOGS president Daryl White, noting this money could be used
to provide bursaries.
According to White, other products have failed to sell well,
so offering Coke products would not be any different. “Coca-Cola
is offering to pay to maintain the status quo — [Coke
was already dominant] by virtue of consumer choice.
“The agreement went through the SOGS democratic process,” he
said, noting it was brought from the Grad Club’s manager
to the SOGS VP-finance, then went to the Grad Club Committee,
which discussed the agreement on two occasions and voted to
approve it, after which it was brought to council. “Council
had a week’s notice of the upcoming motion.
“There were no ethical concerns raised at committee
or council,” White said. “Our primary concern is
the needs of our members — this seems to be what our
members want; it went through our democratic process.”
Bruce Fyfe, the manager of the Grad Club, said Coke proposed
the deal in the fall.
He noted that the alternatives to Coke products formerly offered
were Dad’s, Stewart’s, Snapple, Gatorade and Nantucket
Nectars. “We offered them and patrons voted with their
dollars,” he said, noting none of these sold. “We
are not imposing a choice, we are responding to our patron’s
“We come for the beer, we stay for the beer,” said
Alex Tolson, a third-year geology student and frequenter of
the Grad Club.
“The culture of the Grad Club [may be impacted] — if
it was The Spoke no one would care,” said honours business
administration student Sarah Tilley. “There is more of
a socially responsible clientele in here.”