Rye poring over cola deals

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By Caroline Alphonso

The cola wars have begun on Ryerson’s campus.

Over the summer, both Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola presented bids to administration, vying for the contract that would ink the corporation as the official soft drink on campus.

Ryerson administration said no deal has been signed yet.  But the increase in Coke vending machines on campus seems to indicate otherwise.

Linda Grayson, Ryerson’s v.p. administration, dismissed the speculation.  “Coca-Cola is simply upgrading their equipment on campus,” said Grayson.  “We are still in discussions with Coca-Cola and Pepsi.  That is all I can say.”

But this fall, Coke has established such a strong presence on campus that even RyeSAC has found the new machines are taking up precious space.

RyeSAC rented eight energy-efficient copiers to replace old ones around Ryerson because departments and course unions asked for them.

Last week, Sam Chalmers, acting assistant director of physical plant operations, received an order from the university to put metal plates on some of the photocopier outlets, cutting off their power.

RyeSAC President David Steele was told the photocopiers were consuming too much electricity.  “It’s really frustrating because we are offering a service that is not making any money, but University Business Services is trying to thwart our efforts to help students,” he said.

Steele said he was the power to the photocopiers was cut to make room for additional breakers for Coke machines.

But Ryerson administration insists no deal has been signed with Coke or Pepsi.

“Both companies have approached Ryerson, but we have not signed a deal yet,” said John Corallo, University Business Services director.

Although Corallo would not comment on any bids made by either corporation, he said Ryerson may sign a deal with one by the end of September.

Jason Power, RyeSAC’s v.p. administration, said he suspects a deal has been reached unbeknown to RyeSAC or students.

“I have seen more than I have heard,” he said, referring to the number of Coca-Cola machines around campus.

The Hub cafeteria solely sells Coke products, Coca-Cola vending machines now litter the campus and students can even buy the product at some floors of the Pitman Hall residence.  Noticeably absent on school property is Pepsi products.

As Ryerson wheels and deals with Coke and Pepsi, a number of cash-strapped universities across Canada have entered into deals with corporations.

This summer York University gave Pepsi the exclusive rights to sell its product on campus, in a deal worth $7.5 million over 10 years.

Dawn Palin, president of the York Federation of Students, said the objective is to funnel the money to students.

Over the next 10 years, Palin said fine arts and culture are expected to receive $1.25 million.

But Steele is skeptical money will trickle down to fund student activities at Ryerson.

“I am absolutely positive with the history that RyeSAC has had with University Business Services that we and/or students will not see a penny,” said Steele.

He said he doesn’t know if RyeSAC would support a cola agreement.  “It would be great to have a chunk of that money to give back to the students because it is ultimately the students that contributing to it.”

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