The efforts of the Coke Coalition have been thwarted once again – but this time by its own members.

Jess Cox
University President Mary Sue Coleman smiles as she enters the Fleming Administration Building unimpeded by student protesters yesterday morning.

Early yesterday morning, members of the Coke Coalition awoke to gather in front of the Fleming Administration Building to protest the University’s decision not to cut its contract with Coca-Cola, which the coalition believes is guilty of human rights abuses in a few Third World countries. The plan was to hold a symbolic cutting of the contract and block the entrance to the Fleming Building in an attempt to prevent University President Mary Sue Coleman from entering.

None of this ever happened.

“Four of us showed up, and no one else came,” said Nafisah Ula, a member of the Coke Coalition.

Coalition members abandoned the protest at about 7:45 a.m. – 25 minutes before Coleman was seen walking through the front door of the Fleming Building.

Ula said she and the three other members decided to forgo the planned rally because they felt it would not be effective with so few people present.

Clara Hardie, another member of the Coke Coalition present yesterday, said organizers did not expect more than 10 people at the event because of the lack of publicity.

“We were only expecting core members (of the coalition) and not hundreds of other people,” Ula said. But Ula also said they expected more Coke Coalition members to participate.

No publicity was done via e-mail or flyering because organizers did not want the University administration to be aware of their plans, Hardie said. She said she only expected people who had been showing up to meetings to be aware of the event.

“The event was not completely a disappointment. It wasn’t supposed to be a measurement of how the Coke Coalition is doing,” she said. “It was supposed to be a morale booster for those of us working on the campaign everyday.”

The event also was disbanded because the members present thought they saw Coleman walk into another building, Hardie said.

Last June, the University’s Dispute Review Board determined that significant evidence existed regarding alleged human rights violations by Coca-Cola in Columbia and India. The DRB had ordered an independent third-party investigation into the allegations and set up deadlines for Coca-Cola to adhere to while it attempts to renew its contract with the University.

Last month, the University decided that it would allow Coca-Cola to proceed with the contract renewal process as long as it met deadlines while under investigation for human-rights violations.

Ula said the poor turnout at the event wasn’t for lack of interest but due to poor planning, and that the Coke Coalition will attempt it once again.

Hardie said organizers would attempt a much larger event that would be planned for the late afternoon instead of the early morning, since it turned out many coalition members slept in yesterday for the event.


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