Coke Loses Exclusive Contract for Colleges
The Fresno Bee
March 7, 2007

Student activists who mounted an anti-Coke campaign at Fresno City College won a victory Tuesday when the State Center Community College District opened the door to ending Coca-Cola's dominance on its campuses.

Coke has the exclusive soda contract at City College, Reedley College and smaller college centers in Clovis, Madera and Oakhurst. But the activists pressed for a change because they charge Coke has violated human rights and hurt the environment in Latin America and Asia. Coke says the charges are not true.

State Center trustees voted 5-2 to allow each campus to decide which company or companies sell soda at their sites. Student activists -- some carrying protest signs -- came to the trustees' meeting to make their case.

District spokeswoman Teresa Patterson estimated the students numbered about 35.

City College, with 23,000 students, seems most likely to get an additional soda vendor, according to a district report. A majority of City College's Academic Senate didn't want trustees to renew Coke's exclusive contract, and the associated student government wants more than one vendor.

However, student leaders at the district's smaller centers say they want to stay with Coke, and a committee of administrators and others support the students, the report said.

In Reedley, the Academic Senate took no position, and student leaders say they prefer an exclusive contract.

Trustee Dorothy Smith, who voted in the majority, said, "This is still America. We should have a choice."

But trustee Patrick Patterson, who voted "no," said if the district wanted to be responsible, it should ban all sodas because of their high sugar content.

Coke officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.

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