Ryerson signs contract with Coca-Cola

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By Caroline Alphonso

After months of negotiations, Ryerson has finally announced it has made a deal with Coca-Cola.

The five-year preferred vendor deal signed by the university on March 3 has been retroactive since September, 1998.

This means Coca-Cola products have littered the campus, except at Oakham House and the International Living/Learning Centre, which has a deal with Pepsi.

“Coke gave us a better deal,” said John Corallo, university business services director. “Pepsi knew they were out of this race.”

Corallo said he is bound by a confidentiality agreement and cannot reveal how much money the school is getting out of the deal, but 37.5 per cent will be put toward student services, athletics and bursaries (of this figure, 50 per cent will be for bursaries) and the other 62.5 per cent will be put toward Ryerson’s capital debt.

Coca-Cola will continue to sponsor athletics with $10,000 a year. “We asked if we could be included in the deal,” said Chuck Mathies, assistant athletic director.

Before signing the deal, Corallo said Coca-Cola had to meet certain commitments with the school, such as installing 80 new machines on campus, offering full- and part-time jobs to Ryerson students at the company and having a Coke representative on campus to help with promotion and orientation activities.

“These are the kinds of things you don’t see in other university deals,” said Linda Grayson, Ryerson’s v.p. administration and student affairs, about offering jobs to students.

York University has a deal with Pepsi for $7.5 million over 10 years. Unlike Ryerson’s student council, York’s student government was involved in the deal from the beginning.

“RyeSAC is positioned to make their own deal when the campus centre is up and running,” Grayson said. “They weren’t in a position to get much at all for this arrangement. By holding off and not being tainted by these arrangements, they can do very well.”

RyeSAC will not see any money from the deal, but president David Steele isn’t worried. “As long as students clearly benefit from the deal, I think that’s fine.”

Over the summer, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola presented bids to Ryerson’s administration to get exclusivity on campus. Ryerson administration told The Eyeopener no deal was signed, but Coke vending machines appeared all over campus, including in the Hub cafeteria, in Ryerson’s parking garage and at Pitman Hall. Pepsi products have been noticeably absent on campus.

Grayson said in September Coca-Cola was upgrading their machines and Ryerson was in negotiation with both companies. But a spokesperson for Pepsi-Cola Canada said a week later that Ryerson had turned down the company’s proposal.

“It was very secretive at first. Everyone knew something was up,” Steele said.

Universities trying to make up for funding cutbacks are striking deals giving cola companies exclusive selling rights on their campuses. For corporations such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola, it allows them to establish the loyalty of 18- to 24-year-old consumers.

But critics question whether these deals lead to the corporatization of campuses, where bringing in dollars is more important than students’ choice.

Grayson said Ryerson students can still choose between Coke or Pepsi. “If you don’t like Coke, you can go the ILLC to get a Pepsi or Ernie [the hotdog vendor] to get a Pepsi.”

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