SGA endorses letter asking UMass to reevaluate relationship with Coca Cola

‘The company goes against UMass Amherst’s commitment to sustainability’

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SGA endorses letter asking UMass to reevaluate relationship with Coca Cola

(Anish Roy/Collegian)

(Anish Roy/Collegian)

(Anish Roy/Collegian)

(Anish Roy/Collegian)

By Leticia Medeiros, Collegian Staff

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The Student Government Association of the University of Massachusetts passed a motion to endorse a letter asking the University to not renew a “pouring rights” contract with Coca Cola at their weekly meeting on Monday night.

The letter, sponsored by the Social Justice and Empowerment committee and President Timmy Sullivan, said that the “pouring rights” contract UMass currently has with Coca Cola is in “direct violation of the values that the UMass community stands for.”

The letter states that “Coca-Cola is an environmentally unsustainable company” and “has a problematic record with labor right violations” and that “having a contract with Coca-Cola directly endorses the actions of this company.”

Barkha Bhandari, a senator for the class of 2022, said that “the company goes against UMass Amherst’s commitment to sustainability.”

The letter also asks the University to create a task force “that will navigate an effective transition to a local beverage producer(s) that is sustainable and just.”

According to Bandhari, though the current “pouring rights” contract will last for another five years, it is important to start a dialogue with the University about the issue now to allow for an easier transition should they decide not to renew the contract in the future.

Bandhari also explained that the idea is not to ban Coca Cola products from campus completely, but to expand “the ability of the campus to provide other beverage products.”

During the meeting, senators also approved emergency funding for two student groups and the budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The UMass Men’s Crew Club was granted $10,975 for the purchase of two new boats for continued club use. Later, the Delta Sigma Theta sorority was granted $4,620  in order to send four of their members to a Bi-Annual National Convention, which members are required to attend.

The emergency funding request from the Men’s Crew Club was approved unanimously by senators. The Delta Sigma Theta sorority request had to be debated by senators due to the fact that it was initially denied by the Finance Committee, but eventually passed with a clear majority.

Senators also approved the student budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Given the pending Student Activities fee increase, two versions of the budget were approved.

The first version of the budget is what will be spent in case the SATF increase is not approved by the Board of Trustees, while the second version accounts for the extra income from the SATF increase.

Both versions of the budget were revised to represent a change in the funding process. Previously, ‘PROM’ was used to allocate funding for the 2019-20 fiscal year. However, the Administrative Affairs committee ruled that only the revenue component of ‘PROM’ would be converted into a percentage and applied to the budgets for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Speaker Ryan Mahan recommended this approach to the budgets when senators voted to increase the SATF.

Acting Chair of the Ways and Means committee Megan Alberto noticed that “it is very likely” that the SATF increase will be approved by the Board of Trustees.

Editor’s note: Barkha Bhandari is a contributor to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

Leticia Medeiros can be reached at [email protected]and followed on Twitter @fmleticia.