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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Killer Coke Campaign Loses Leader, in Jeopardy

    The organizer of SBU’s student campaign against the Coca-Cola Company stepped down on Dec. 3, for personal reasons.Her resignation came at a time when the campaign was struggling to get the university administration to take action against the Coca-Cola Company.

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Anita Halasz, an officer of the student club Social Justice Alliance, had been leading a campaign to end SBU’s contract with the Coca-Cola Company since the beginning the fall semester, in response to alleged human rights violations by the Coca-Cola Company in Colombia, and alleged environmental violations in India.On Dec. 3, she sent an email to ten members of the Social Justice Alliance announcing her resignation.

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Basically, what this means is that I won’t be dealing the administration, writing resolutions, organizing actions, etc.’ Halasz said, in her email.‘It’s been quite an experience organizing the campaign and as much as I hate to do this, I have to.I am sorry.I hope that I will not be discouraging people and arousing thoughts of hopelessness.’

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Halasz’s resignation came at a critical point in the campaign.The campaign had begun to act on two fronts.First, it had been working with the University Senate to create a committee to investigate allegations against Coca-Cola, and revaluate SBU’s relationship to the company.

    Second, it had been working with the Faculty Student Association to host an open debate with representatives from the Coca-Cola.This route, however, had been facing resistance from the university administration.

    In November, Social Justice Alliance met with a group of administrators about their campaign, including Shirley Strum Kenny, the university president.However, according to Halasz, Kenny had to leave early for another meeting.The remaining administrators referred the alliance to Kevin Kelly, the executive administrator of the Faculty Student Association.

    Social Justice Alliance had met with Kelly in October, where he told the alliance that he would arrange an open debate with Coca-Cola at SBU.Social Justice Alliance had planned to ask activists from around the country, who have spoken out against Coca-Cola’s alleged crimes, to debate representatives from Coca-Cola.However, in November, Kelly referred the Social Justice Alliance to the University Senate’s Student Life Committee for approval, Halasz said.

    ‘We wanted to be more sure about the details before we moved on,’ said Kelly, who is listed as an ex-officio member of the Student Life Committee.‘I didn’t want to do anything without the committee’s approval.Since there’s already a body that is designed to deal with this sort of thing, we should consult them first.’

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ When Social Justice Alliance approached the Student Life Committee with its idea, the committee asked for more details about the allegations, Halasz said.Specifically, the committee asked to know about alternative bottling companies that could replace Coca-Cola, should SBU end its contract with the company.This was confirmed by Norm Goodman of the Student Life Committee.

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘That’s not what should be stopping us from inviting Coke,’ Charlene Obernauer, a member of Social Justice Alliance, said.The alliance had been working since the beginning of the semester to solidify companies that would be willing to replace Coca-Cola at SBU.However, Halasz said that Social Justice Alliance’s list wasn’t enough for the Student Life Committee.

    Researching alternative companies would be one of the jobs of the University Senate Committee that Social Justice Alliance is trying to form.Before Halasz resigned, she was writing a resolution for the University Senate’s next meeting, proposing the formation of the committee.Halasz said that the committee would include representatives from the Undergraduate Student Government, the Graduate Student Organization, the Graduate Student Employees Union, the FSA, and Social Justice Alliance.Halasz was also engaged in communications with these organizations.

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Social Justice Alliance was planning a ‘radical action’ in respect to the perceived hassles they were facing.Members planned to request, again, for Kevin Kelly to help them arrange a meeting with Coca-Cola representatives, said Obernauer.If he declined to help them immediately, the alliance was planning to demonstrate outside his office.

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ However, it’s not yet clear how the campaign will continue without Halasz.According to her email, she wants someone to take over for her, and she wants the campaign to continue.At a campaign meeting on Nov. 30, before Halasz resigned, Obernauer said that the campaign against Coca-Cola has been Social Justice Alliance’s longest, most in-depth campaign so far.

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘I didn’t know it would be this crazy. I didn’t know I would have to talk to all these people,’ Halasz said at the meeting.

    ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

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