Don’t Bottle It Up

In recent weeks, the students of Concordia have been overlooked and ignored by university administration. Their business-as-usual approach to signing secret and exclusive contracts with major corporations is a practice that has gone on for far too long.

Students are seen as the target market of these corporations, and yet there is no student representation in the negotiation or signing of these contracts. News for the administration: this is a university, not a big business. We are not potential consumers, but rather colleagues, peers, community members and equals.

Despite the beverage contract being signed with PepsiCo, the Concordia Student Union continues towards the goal of a bottled water free campus; the contract signed includes a clause allowing for changes such as banning the sale of bottled water on campus.

University admin have agreed to the formation of a bottled water committee, which will advise Acting VP Services Roger Côté so that the university may make an “educated” decision. This committee will include
students, staff, faculty, community members and admin.

This month’s CSU/ASFA Green Week will include a Panel Discussion and Open Forum on Bottled Water on Nov. 24 at 6pm in room H-767: panelists will include Tony Clarke (water activist and founder of the Polaris Institute), and John Challinor (representative of Nestle Waters and the Canadian Bottled Water Industry). We’d like to encourage all members of the Concordia community to attend, get informed and ask questions.

The CSU is also working to institutionalize student representation into the University’s contract processes. We want to see students’ interests represented with regards to contracts, including enforcing the Environmental Assessment Committee’s recommendations and the university’s sustainable and ethical policies. We are stakeholders at this university and have the right to participate in these decision-making processes.

Students should no longer have to bottle up their anger stemmed from being ignored. We do not want unethical corporations hanging banners in our hallways, or selling bottled water on our campus; it’s time for REAL student space. We are here, ready to be heard, and it is the university’s turn to listen.

If you are interested in getting involved, learning more or volunteering, please contact sustainability@csu.qc.ca
—Morgan Pudwell,
CSU VP Sustainability & Promotions

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 13, published November 9, 2010.

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