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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    New Beverage Contract Takes Step Closer To Completion

    The administration and the Faculty Student Association took another big step towards the approval of a new exclusive beverage contract for Stony Brook University, in preparation for the current contract’s expiration in June of this year. A mandatory bidder’s conference was held on Wednesday Jan. 30 in the Procurement office, giving a chance for potential vendors to ask questions of FSA representatives as well as two Procurement officials. Over the winter break, the FSA sent out the finalized contract to all possible bidders after months of careful deliberations and attention to detail by a committee consisting of students and administration officials. If a company wished to place a bid to the university, attendance at this conference was mandatory. Three vendors attended the conference. Coca Cola, who commands the current contract with Stony Brook; Pepsi Co.; and Big Geyser, an area distributor that supplies institutions with a wide array of drinks from other companies. A Glac’eacute;au representative was also present. Big Geyser distributes their products. The conference began with Procurement representative Laura Beck outlining the contract. The administration and the FSA have both expressed their dissatisfaction with the current contract, admitting that the university did not do a good job negotiating it in 1998. The committee that was formed to evaluate the bid grew out of escalating pressure from the Social Justice Alliance over what campaign leaders refer to as ‘gross human rights violations’ by the Coca Cola Company. Anita Halasz, a graduate student and active member of the Killer Coke campaign for two years, said that the committee had done a pretty good job reworking the contract. ‘I think [the administration] really listened to what we had to say and took everything we mentioned seriously,’ she said. Still, Halasz warned that should the contract with Coca Cola be renewed, it would represent a waste of time. ‘If we entered into another long term contract with Coke, it would be embarrassing to the university to have made such a big deal only to accomplish nothing,’ Halasz said. Of the three options that the university now has, Halasz was in favor of Big Geyser, which contracts with smaller beverage producers like Gus Soda and Honest Tea as well as some larger companies like Poland Spring and Glac’eacute;au, makers of Vitamin Water and Smart Water. All three vendors who are now in a position to place a bid participated in similar discussions the last time Stony Brook sought a beverage contract in 1998. Glac’eacute;au, which was only founded two years earlier, was not being distributed by Big Geyser then. At the meeting, Beck reminded the vendor representatives of the code of ethics that was added at the bidding committee’s discretion. It is meant to hold vendors to a high standard in ethical business practices, and allows the university to deny or terminate a contract should a vendor fail to disclose certain information. Paul Hubbard, the FSA director at the University Hospital, also stressed the importance of environmental stewardship, highlighting the university’s recycling program. ‘Stony Brook is very committed to increasing environmental protections, and that includes holding our partners to a higher standard too,’ Hubbard told the attendees. Additionally, the vending machines on campus, of which there are 117 according to manager of machine-operated services for FSA Tony Gentile, must all comply with the Energy Star program once the new contract commences on or around July 1. The company that is invited onto campus owns and operates the vending machines. Following a brief question and answer session, Gentile led a group of five representatives from the vendors on a tour of both the east and west campuses to give them a sense of what facilities they would be supplying as well as how popular and how big each location is. Any future vendor is expected to supply the entire university as well as the medical center and the Southampton campus with bottled drinks, syrups, and the carbonated water for cafeteria machines. Gentile spoke briefly about the campus cash program. Vending machines that Coca Cola has been installing have come equipped with card reading technology, allowing students to upload money onto their SB ID card and use them at select vending machines. Gentile called it the first phase in the Campus Cash program, and reassured the vendors that the program will be expanded in the near future. Stony Brook is looking for another long-term exclusive beverage contract, likely to last 10 years. In assessing the bids as they come in, a committee will consider overall value, not just cost. To do so, a point system has been established and will be used to grade the quality of each bid. 60 points will be based on the quality of sponsorship programs and the remaining 40 points will be based on technical criteria. Sponsorship programs include financing certain athletic and academic scholarships, as well as contributing products to several student life activities like the annual Strawberry Fest or Roth Pond Regatta. ‘We have many annual events at Stony Brook, and beverages play an important role in these events,’ explained Gentile. The bidding for a new beverage contract coincides with a similar endeavor by campus dining. Chartwells, the university’s food service provider, has a contract that is set to expire at the same time as Coca Cola’s contract. A Pepsi Co. representative asked if Chartwells, or potentially a new food service provider, would have a say in the decision to accept a contract, to which Hubbard said no. Bids are due on March 7th at 3pm.

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