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May 31, 2005 - Image 14

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-05-31

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Orientation Edition 2005
MSA calls for 'U' to
investigate Coca-Cola p

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February 23, 2005
By Jeremy Davidson
Daily Staff Reporter
The Michigan Student Assembly voted yesterday
to support the actions of the Coke-Campaign Coali-
tion, an anti-Coke group, and also to accept the alle-
gations brought against the soft-drink giant regarding
human rights violations.
When the vote passed, many members of MSA's
Peace and Justice Commission, and dozens of represen-
tatives from the Coke-Campaign Coalition fell silent.
Though the coalition had been fighting for this
resolution to be passed, it was unexpectedly modified
during the meeting and when voted on did not include
language that would demand the University to termi-
nate its contract with Coca-Cola.
The Coke-Campaign Coalition, which consists of
11 student activist groups on campus, brought this
resolution to MSA as a part of a world-wide cam-
paign against Coca-Cola, accusing the company of
significant human rights and labor violations.
But before the vote, in an unexpected move, MSA
President Jason Mironov proposed two revisions to
the resolution; one, that the resolution be divided into
two parts, and the second that, instead of demand-
ing the University terminate its contract with Coca-
Cola, the resolution state that the MSA will stand
behind the actions of the Coke-Campaign Coalition.
Mironov said he separated and amended the resolu-
tion in order to divide the question into two distinct
elements.
The revision that toned down the language of
the resolution was reworded to give credence to the
Dispute Review Board, which looks into allegedly

unethical practices of University business partners.
The board consists of faculty and students, including
members of MSA and Students Organizing for Labor
and Economic Equality, Mironov said.
The coalition said it was more disappointed with
the second revision because its members felt the reso-
lution lost some of its power.
"It's still important that (the resolution) passed
because it's significant that this student government
supports the Coke-Campaign Coalition," RC Junior
Ashwini Hardikar, co-chair of MSA's Peace and Jus-
tice Commission, said, "I am disappointed that we
chose to tone down the language."
The resolution was divided into two parts; the
first dealt with whether MSA believed in the allega-
tions brought against Coca-Cola, a measure that the
assembly approved.
Hardikar described the vote as a victory for the
coalition.
"The first resolution that confirmed Coke's viola-
tions was passed without any changes, putting the
student government in solidarity with the people of
Colombia and India," Hardikar said.
Because students have protested and complained
about Coca-Cola, Purchasing Services at the Univer-
sity has started a formal investigation. It is currently
gathering information to present a recommendation
to the Dispute Review Board, which is composed of
students, faculty and staff.
The Dispute Review Board will make a recom-
mendation to the University's executive vice president
and to the chief financial officer.
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said the
resolution would play a significant part in the overall
decision to renew Coke's contract in June.

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Lori Billingsley (left) spoke on behalf of Coca-Cola in MSA chambers on Monday May 21,
2005. Amit Srivastiva (right) presented allegations of human rights violations against the
Coke in India. The meeting was held to inform MSA reps before their vote on May 22, 2005.
Evidence supports
Coke allegations

May 7, 2005
By Christopher Zbrozek
For the Daily
The University committee currently inves-
tigating alleged human rights abuses by
the Coca-Cola Company has found cred-
ible evidence to support two allegations of
human rights abuses, according to Univer-
sity spokeswoman Julie Peterson. It does not
appear, however, that the committee will rec-
ommend the University cut its contract with
Coca-Cola that expires in June.
The University's Dispute Review Board,
which began its investigation of Coca-Cola
following a recommendation from University
Purchasing Services on March 8, spent over
four hours last Monday at a meeting held in
the Fleming Administration Building delib-
erating final recommendation regarding the
University's contract with Coca-Cola. The
meeting was closed to the public and the
press.
The DRB has found evidence to support
two of the four allegations of human rights
and environmental infractions it was charged
with investigating.
Peterson wrote in an e-mail message that
the DRB currently believes there is credible
evidence in support of allegations of pesti-
cides in the product in India and concerns
over labor practices in Colombia.
Although the DRB has not yet released its
final statement, it appears unlikely it will
recommend that the University halt renewal
of its contract with Coca-Cola that expires in
June.
According to an e-mail sent to the United
Asian American Organizations mailing list
the DRB decided to renew the contract with
Coca-Cola through September.
After September, the contract would be
renewed on a month-by-month basis, pro-
vided that Coca-Cola shows it has improved
its human rights record. According to the e-
mail, the criteria for evaluating Coca-Cola
sfter September are still under debate.

DRB chair Frank Stafford acknowledged
that the ideas in the e-mail had been dis-
cussed at the meeting. He denied, however,
that a final vote had been taken on the plan
outlined in the email, noting that it "may not
be a workable mechanism."
"I think the general direction here is clear.
We'll have to see changes in the way Coke
runs its operations," Stafford said. The DRB
has not yet finished determining the specific
details of its recommendation concerning
Coca-Cola.
"We have to figure out a timeline on which we
can expect to see milestones of progress to see them
continue as a vendor in good standing," Stafford
said. Failure to show progress on Coca-Cola's part
could lead to the loss of its business with the Uni-
versity, Stafford said.
Coke Coalition members were heartened
to learn that the DRB had upheld two of
the allegations against Coca-Cola, but were
not pleased that the DRB's recommendation
appears likely wto give the company time to
bring its operations in-line with University
standards without terminating the contract.
"It's not our job as the University to force
Coke to change," RC sophomore and Coke
Coalition member Jory Hearst said. "The
DRB's role should be to evaluate whether a
company is in violation of the code of con-
duct. Here they clearly are, so we should cut
the contract."
The DRB's investigation has taken longer than
planned due to the difficulty of investigating events
in India and Columbia.
"We don't want to start issuing recommenda-
tions without credible information," Stafford said.
Because all of the DRB is not in Ann Arbor, its
members will continue deliberations by phone and
email, according to Peterson.
The DRB hopes to release its final recom-
mendation within the next one to two weeks.
The recommendation will go to Timothy Slot-
tow, the University's executive vice president
and chief financial officer, who has authority
to make a final decision regarding the con-
tracts with Coca-Cola.

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