Students find campus cola deals hard to swallow

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By Caroline Alphonso

The transition to a one-cola campus at the schools across Canada has not been a smooth one for some.

York University students protested their school’s exclusivity agreement with Pepsi at York’s homecoming football game on the last weekend of September.  The school signed a deal over the summer making Pepsi the only cola available on campus.

Several York students put an anti-Pepsi sign on the fence surrounding the stadium. Security immediately asked them to take it down — the only signs permitted at games are sponsors’.

Ryerson has negotiated with both Cocal-Cola and PepsiCO to allow one company the exclusive selling rights, though Coke has established a huge presence on campus.

The York protest sparked debate over students’ right to freedom of speech.

“I think it is important that we protect the students’ right to protest on campus, said Dawn Palin, president of the York Federation of Students.

But she said the deal with Pepsi, worth $7.5 million over 10 years, should not make students think the company owns the university.

Pepsi reaches a market of more than 27,800 full-time students at York.

“Students may feel that Pepsi has a greater control over the university, but Pepsi doesn’t have a saw over the academics here,” said Palin.  “They just give us the money and this money goes toward student activities.”

York administration spokeswoman Sine MacKinnon said students should follow rules if they’re going to protest.  “Students always have the right to protest.  They just have to abide by some simple rules.”

Student at the University of Manitoba ignored policy when they vandalized vending machines, cutting power cords to protest the school’s exclusive agreement with Pepsi signed two years ago.

The school’s associate v.p. Debbie McCallum said students are now reconciled to having the cola company on campus.

Last summer, Brock University joined the University of Manitoba and York University by making Pepsi the choice of their generation.

Brock’s more than 6,400 full-time students can now buy only Pepsi on campus after the university signed a 10-year deal this summer worth $ million.

The student government will receive one third of revenues from the deal, with the rest going to the university.

Students were unhappy with the exclusivity deal at first but are getting used to it, said Mamdouch Abdel Maksoud, president of Brock University’s student union. “It is a limited choice for students, but the financial benefit outweighs it.”

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