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Hofstra University Votes 'No' to Coke

By Beth Goodbaum
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Issue: 5/5/05
Hofstra University

University professors and students joined in the decision to end the exclusive contract with Coca-Cola, furthering Students Against Injustice's (SAI) protest of the corporation.

Two weeks ago, the Coca-Cola referendum on the SGA ballot received 506 student votes, with only 172 votes against ending the contract with a corporation that has committed human rights and environmental crimes in Columbia and India.

"There were 80 more votes to end the contract than there was for the presidential candidates," said Vanessa Cudabac, Latin American and Caribbean studies major and president of SAI.

Former SGA president Heather Gibbons said the issue will be brought up in negotiations when the contract ends in May. She said she hopes President Stuart Rabinowitz takes the referendum into consideration when choosing a new campus vendor.

"In the end, it is the decision of the University and the administration regardless of what the referendum results were," Gibbons said.

University professors also favored the referendum as they voted 130-1 to end the exclusive vending contract during a full faculty meeting on Monday.

The resolution was endorsed by members of the Long Island Teachers for Human Rights (LITHR), which is made up of 129 Long Island members and was proposed to professors by Gregory Maney, professor of sociology at the University.

Maney spoke to his colleagues during the meeting. In his speech he said it is the responsibility of educators to encourage students to see how they can make an impact and how their decisions can affect the rest of the world.

"As an institution of higher education we are the voice of conscience in our society," he said. "As an institution of over 10,000 people, we also have the consumer power necessary to promote responsible practices."

Maney said he was pleased with the SGA referendum results and encouraged the faculty to cease supporting "a corporation that profits from the murdering of trade union leaders, profits from the use of child labour and from the sale of toxic chemicals."

Cudabac also spoke at the meeting and said she was impressed and pleased with the support the faculty has shown to the students.

"Although the formal decision is left up to President Rabinowitz," Cudabac said. "The students and faculty have spoken and our voices will not go unheard."

Melissa Connolly, assistant vice president of University relations, said Rabinowitz will consider all relevant information when making his decision over the summer.

"Certainly, student satisfaction is a high priority for President Rabinowitz and will be taken into account," she said. "As will issues relating to costs, revenue and distribution of services."

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