Michigan Student Assembly Finds Coke Guilty
The Michigan Student Assembly voted yesterday to support the actions
of the Coke-Campaign Coalition, an anti-Coke group, and also to accept
the allegations brought against the soft-drink giant regarding human
When the vote passed, many members of MSA's Peace and Justice Commission,
and dozens of representatives from the Coke-Campaign Coalition fell
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 terminate
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
campaign 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 demanding
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 resolution 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 resolution 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 Justice 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 allegations 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 violations 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 University 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
The Dispute Review Board will make a recommendation 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
Members of Purchasing have been gathering information from both sides
of the issue, and have already met with Coca-Cola. Purchasing will
meet with members of SOLE and the coalition today. Accordng to Peterson,
Purchasing will take MSA's resolution into serious consideration when
advising the Dispute Review Board.
"It's important for purchasing and the review board to understand
students' opinions on this issue," Peterson said.
"What's important is that the student assembly has unanimously supported
student groups who are pursuing justice on the Coca-Cola issue," said
RC junior Ryan Bates, co-chair of MSA's Peace and Justice commission.
— Megan Zeller contributed to this report.
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