Saddleback is now a Pepsi-sponsored campus

SODA (Joseph Espiritu)

Lauren Small

Contractual issues between Saddleback College and the Coca-Cola Beverage Company has left the campus looking for a replacement beverage sponsor.

The decision was made this summer after the Food and Beverage committee gathered to review the old contract with Coca-Cola and was not completely satisfied with the terms.

Director of Student Development Audra DiPadova explained that getting the committee together was a huge production and took a lot of work. The meeting wouldn’t have been necessary if the school wasn’t having problems with Coke.

The matter is beyond just taste.

According to DiPadova, things were progressing smoothly in the beginning of Saddleback’s contract with Coca-Cola. Company managers often visited to make sure things were going well. It was when they changed their company structure that the committee began to see problems.

“Coke no longer had a specific management team to deal with Saddleback exclusively,” said DiPadova. “It became challenging to work with the company and they didn’t seem to have any plan of action to deal with it.”

More discoveries were made about the company when the Saddleback College Associated Student Government visited the University of California Los Angeles campus last month.

UCLA switched from Coca-Cola to Pepsi several years prior.

The change was the result of the university discovering that Coca-Cola utilized faulty labor practices in their African Factories.

According to a 1985 Los Angeles Times article, many activists at UCLA were not happy doing business with a company that operated 40 bottling and canning plants in South Africa and paid taxes to the country’s apartheid government.

“It was inspiring to see a school like UCLA make such a powerful change for something they believe in,” DiPadova said.

Coca-Cola’s failure to keep vending machines filled and getting products into coolers to sell caused problems with Saddleback. When the contract finally came to an end this past summer, Pepsi decided to present the school with a counter-offer.

After reviewing Pepsi’s offer, the committee went forward with the change.

Pepsi offered more money and benefits for the school as a whole.

Pepsi also offered a substantial amount of money to the college that would directly benefit its students. The funds would be invested towards scholarships, school programs, and events on campus.

The athletic department will also benefit from the switch since Gatorade, a brand within
the Pepsi Company, offered to donate $1000 worth of gear for the sports teams.

“These valuable resources help free up other areas of our athletic budget to provide other
essential supplies to our athletic teams such as uniforms, supplies, and equipment,” said Athletic Administrative Assistant Jess Perez.

The staff and students also favor the Pepsi Company’s eco-friendly production practices.

Pepsi is now offering all natural ingredients, a large range of biodegradable containers, and is steering clear of Styrofoam products.

“I think its great that we are signing with a company that cares about our environment,” said Britta Gleason, 18, liberal arts. “It’s a sign that we are headed in a good direction.”

Coke also presented solutions for greener alternatives, although their idea revolved around smaller bottles, a solution not as popular with the committee.

After being vetted by the committee the proposal was later presented to the Board of Trustees.

“Regardless of taste for one or the other, the contracts went through a fair and open process,” said DiPadova.

As of June 22, 2009 Saddleback College is officially a Pepsi school.