November 3, 2008

Heated Student Response To "Coke"

In just over three hours since posting about the VSA's passing of the resolution to kick Coca Cola products from Vassar, the post has gotten over 100 comments. That makes it our most popular post of all time.

In addition to the mainly anonymous comments on Mads, a group of students has put together a "Motion of No Confidence" document explaining why students feel the VSA Council does not accurately represent the majority of student opinions. This document has supposedly already gotten over close to three hundred signatures, mostly from seniors.

The writers of the document plan to submit it to the VSA, the Senior Officers, Campus Dining, and the Misc.

"The document basically says that the Council disregarded the opinion of the majority of students, and has decided to adopt the agenda of a radical minority of student activists," an anonymous commenter writes.

Mads has yet to see a copy of the document.

Check out our original post here or scroll down.

Update: The VSA Executive Board just sent out a campus-wide email. "While we recognize that this may not be the most popular decision that the Council has made, it highlights that our Constitution allows individual members of our campus to create policy and propose legislative action," the Board writes.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

mads, the document now has like 230 signatures, and that was already like 20 minutes ago.

Anonymous said...

the letter is addressed to campus dining, all the senior officers, including cappy and chris roellke, and basically says that the vsa council does not effectively solicit student opinion. it goes on to say that the kick coke people are a fringe minority of students who should be ignored in all administrative decisions.

perhaps some members of the council would like to offer their resignations before things get embarrassing for them? their stunning anti-democratic tactics to please a group of radicals is proof that vassar's student government needs replacing.

Anonymous said...

guys, don't sign this document. it's not the vsa's fault. they just facilitated the discussion.

Anonymous said...

True, but I kinda like the idea of showing everyone that the students actually do have some voice and power at this school.

Bring it around the dorms, I'll sign it.

Anonymous said...

This is COMPLETELY ABSURD. Please, please consider the ramifications this will have for actual students who go here and did nothing wrong before you consider signing this just to make a point about power.

Anonymous said...

i'll sign it too. but my complaints with the vsa council are more political: their gender-neutral support, their support of illegal aliens, their support of ever-expanding financial aid free-bees for students... but whatever. on this issue, i FINALLY seem to be in the majority on this campus. the council has overstepped its bounds on this one. if they expect to continue as our government, they need to author an apology pronto and rescind their resolution.

Anonymous said...

12:54 --- you must be on the vsa and fearing for your job, huh? well you should be, because tonight you really, really fucked up.

Anonymous said...

12:54, What exactly are the dire ramifications you are alluding to? Also don't make the VSA council members to be an innocent fawn. We elect them to represent the MAJORITY.

Anonymous said...

it is so absurd that the people of the VSA think that they know what is best for the student body in this instance. Not only is Coke no where near as guilty, if at all, at the ridiculous allegations pointed at them by the VSA, but there are literally hundreds of other companies whose products and services we use here at vassar everyday who are so much worse than what these idiots have accused coke of doing. I mean do you want to ban Nike for having sweat shops or apple for being environmentally unsafe? NO, I didnt think so. I want to sign this document, and I want cappy to step up and stand up to this ridiculous vote by the VSA and say no to banning Coke.

Anonymous said...

12:56 - I honestly have nothing to do with the VSA.
12:58 - Well, I would imagine resignation would kind of be shameful and embarrassing. So there's that.

They voted to remove a soft drink from campus. Maybe their idea of the majority was inaccurate, or maybe they were being irresponsible and voted based on their own opinions. Either way, the digression is not severe enough to warrant this response.
-12:54

Anonymous said...

EXACTLY. and they failed to represent the majority. failed miserably, in fact.

As far as i'm concerned, i want to start talking with students about forming an alternative student government that isn't so clearly motivated by liberal politics. the government we have is so politically driven that it's ridiculous.i'm not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination, but my god. a resolution to ban a company, just because of this ridiculous "evil corporate" model? and with a vast minority of student support?

The current "government" should not be making any decisions at all on our behalf. They should be disregarded in all policy making, and a new government should be formed that actually represents students.

-David, class of 2011

Anonymous said...

i want the names of everyone who voted for this, so that i can e-mail them how much i despise them.

Anonymous said...

Careful 1:05, I am upset about the ruling as well but temper your frustration with a level head. Anger will not solve anything.

Anonymous said...

I just emailed Cappy, chill@vassar.edu, with a very simple statement:

"I, like so many of my peers, were shocked and outraged at the Vassar Student Association Council's vote to endorse kicking Coke products off campus. Their vote was based on totally inconclusive evidence about Coke's misbehavior. The Council in no way represents my view, on this or any other matter. Apparently, some members have become so politically motivated that they can forget the people whom they are supposedly representing. I was never told of this vote, except through articles in the Misc, and never asked for my opinion by any of my representatives. In forming your final decision on this matter, I urge you to disregard the Council's resolution. They have grossly overstepped their bounds in crafting this resolution. This year, the VSA Council does not speak for students, despite what they may claim."

Anonymous said...

1:04

Before anyone says it, I'll say it. You'll get some response about how you can drink whatever you want, and then some vague shit about "structural support for a corporation blah blah blah". Basically it means oh go to Stop and Shop (drive, which means gas) and bring your Coke here, but nope, we're gonna take out all the Coke machines on campus.

They claim this isn't "banning a corporation" and they claim it makes sense in some universe I am not aware of.

Anonymous said...

I would encourage others to send an email to Cappy (like this fine citizen) expressing your distaste for how this whole debacle was handled but would urge that you use correct grammar and perhaps more eloquent language.

Anonymous said...

1:11, i just e-mailed president hill, along with maureen king (the head of dining) and dean roellke to tell them all the exact same thing: the council no longer speaks for the majority of students. instead, they believe that they can make these decisions unilaterally and disregard student voice. they believe that they can cater to a very, very far leftist faction. they believe they can use their stance as "representatives" to paint me as a kick coke radical. i'm not. sorry.

if anything, i hope that my e-mail will serve to undermine anything that jimmy kelly and his gang try to do this year. maybe the administration will begin to see how little they represent the opinions of most students.

Sean Koerner, Noyes Prez said...

For those of you upset that your voice was not heard: the resolution was largely passed based upon results that council members got when they emailed their constituents, asking for their opinions on Kicking Coke. That was the final argument: to vote how our constituents told us to. While I did not do that, most of Council did; had more people responded pro-Coke, the resolution would have at least lost some steam - and it passed by one vote. Please don't complain that your voice was not heard - you had a chance to tell your rep(s) that you opposed Kick Coke.

That said, I will reiterate what I wrote in the original post: organize. This doesn't need to mean impeaching Council; just bring us a well worded document with student support showing that we misjudged student opinion, and this can be addressed. No promises, but it's much more effective than calling for resignations and impeachments.

Anonymous said...

But Sean, even you must concede that there was no serious effort to take into consideration the opinions of the student body as a whole. different polls from different leaders:It was very fragmented and poorly executed.

Anonymous said...

Also many of the VSA council members had made up their mind in favor of this document even before asking some people their opinion. Do you deny this?

Anonymous said...

Council members certainly did not ask for MY opinion. As far as I'm concerned, we should begin exploring a new student government that is not comprised of politically-driven radicals.

Sean Koerner, Noyes Prez said...

I can't deny or confirm any other council members' reasoning for their vote, other than that the final comment was that we should vote as our constituents told us to. I think that some people were pro, and some against; however, I know councilmembers who changed their votes based upon student response. As for the veracity of the polling process, it wasn't perfect (polls never are) but within the time frame available, it was the best immediate judgment we could attempt regarding student opinion. As I said in council, we shouldn't have voted based upon opinion at all, since it's so hard to really judge - we should have voted based upon the legitimacy of the human rights violations, which I thought were questionable.

All of that said, judging "student opinion" on this campus is very hard - the polls which we base things on have usually at best 25% turnout, and usually as low as 15%. If nobody tells us how they feel, we have to jury rig a conglomeration of opinions as best we can. So in conclusion, I would guess that the vote was largely a combination of the responses to the polls, with a few people who had already made up their minds. Regardless, every constituency except Cushing voted pro-Kicking Coke, so every "yes" vote was a legitimate attempt to represent what student opinion was available.

Matt Bourne said...

i think anonymous comments should be disabled on this sight... that probably isn't possible though

Anonymous said...

Cappy's an economist, all she cares about is money, not human rights or whats fair or any of that shit. That much can be seen in her behavior during the bookstore forum stuff.

So obviously, I see no reason why we should fear her supporting this resolution. It's obvious enough to me that she wont, so I don't really see why there's so much uproar. Fuck with the VSA if you want, I'm all for fighting the system (yes, VSA you are part of 'the system') but no need to get so bent out of shape like this'll pass. I hate Cappy's hugely economist bias, but at least in this case it's comforting.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you exactly Sean. This was an issue of morals and ethics as the VSA stated. But the proof that Coke had commited any wrongdoing was simply not there. hearsay at the most. If there was proof than no one would be seriously against Kick Coke. I'm shocked that the VSA voted in this manner.

~1:28

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, President Hill will be smart enough to reject the Vassar radicals and the VSA (who are apparently one in the same) and she will be able to craft a sensible decision.

The Hamburgler '11 said...

I also think anonymous comments should be barred! See! I wrote my name! So should you!

Anonymous said...

I didn't hear or see any of you at the VSA meeting tonight. Not a single student OUTSIDE OF THE VSA COUNCIL argued against the resolution. Maybe next time you should come to the meeting.

Charlie Nicholson
President of 2012

Anonymous said...

I am upset by the fact that so many people (in the previous post) slipped into disgusting conservative rhetoric- calling Kick Coke supporters Commies, elitist hippies, etc. I thought students here were more forward thinking, or at least more mature.

And everyone who is complaining that the VSA has been hijacked by a bunch of radicals- where was this concern before the resolution passed? Why didn't you email your presidents? I'm sure some of you did, but clearly not enough. Clearly this issue doesn't mean as much to you as it does to the students who are against Coke's presence on campus.

All of these discussions drip of privilege. I suppose drinking Coke is one of your dear God given rights in as an American, who is entitled to exploit cheap labor and lax laws and an industrialized agricultural system in order to enjoy bubbly high fructose corn syrup sidle down your throat, rotting your teeth and making you fat. Oh, the sweet taste of freedom.

And yes, there are many debatable corporate presences on campus. No, the Kick Coke campaign isn't flawless, and neither is the VSA. But I applaud both groups for this effort. Just because it is not possible to change everything doesn't mean we shouldn't try to change anything.

Taking Coke off of campus doesn't mean Vassar is being taken over by radicals, or that we are turning into a Communist institution. It means that we are trying to make more conscientious and sustainable purchasing decisions on a school-wide level, which I personally think is awesome.

Think about it.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit, I wasn't a Kick Coke fan till the shit hit the roof, aka the last comments thread. Some of the comments are really ridiculous, offensive and really immature - people who want this change are elitist, communists, radicals, damned liberals. What? This is the voice of Vassar? I am slightly disturbed.

Also, how is this a failure of democracy. It is a failure on your part if you did not make your voice heard to those you ELECTED to be your representative. Let us not diss the VSA, who so far have done an admirable job. Yes, perhaps this buildup to the vote was hurried and yes, perhaps this result does not reflect the entire student body's real opinion, but that is the fault of apathetic students who would rather tell mads they don't want to kick coke anonymously than admit it in an email to their representatives.

And the more I think about it, it is not a matter of restricting choices or controlling what you buy, it is the symbolic stance of a self-proclaimed liberal institution against alleged maltreatment of workers/soil/water. And when we are so strung-up on boycotting other goods tainted with human rights violations (sweat-shop labor?) on campus, this only seems a logical step.

Damn right, I'll miss my coke. But I'll survive, and so will you. Sometimes the bigger picture.

Anonymous said...

Uh, Charlie, actually there was one student not on Council who spoke against the resolution at the meeting.

Anonymous said...

For the Executive Board to say that their move to ban Coke was "not be the most popular decision," they are dramatically underplaying the student response to their actions, based on the Motion of No Confidence that I just read (and signed) with currently 390 names and growing. Students are not standing for this.

Class of 09 member/TA Resident said...

Why didn't those 390 some odd people (of whom you say most are seniors?) respond to those emails from Luis (2009) or Riane (TA Residents) that I'm SURE were also sent out from other respective VSA representatives??

I'd really like to take a moment to tell everyone to go and vote on November 4th because at this rate, we'll just have a bunch of non-voters crying on November 5th because things didn't go their way. Luis and Riane were BEGGING for input and were very open to all opinions.

Anonymous said...

12:55 FINANCIAL AID FREE BEES??? What the hell are you talking about?

Oh, I'm sorry, I guess those who can't afford to come here shouldn't. Fuck the American Dream, you're too poor to get a good education, right?

It is so, so easy to say things like that when you're in a good economic position...

Anonymous said...

This is just a witch hunt! Stop it!
People just don't like to be told what to do. Research and Support your facts. Don't just do stuff cuz another college is doing it. eww

Anonymous said...

This is SO fucked up. Swarthmore decided to lift the ban on Coke. And now we're going to ban it? we're behind the times.

Anonymous said...

If you didn't get an e-mail from your VSA rep soliciting your opinion on the matter, you can complain about not being represented. I got an e-mail, and I told my rep I was against kicking Coke. In the end it's your fault if you didn't e-mail your opinion, so stop calling for people to resign just because they did their job. If you're all so smart and knew the Kick Coke people were organized enough to make sure this resolution passed, why didn't you let your rep know how you felt?

There are ways to let your opinion be known, and this is clearly the stupidest way to do it - offensively, and behind a veil of anonymity so no one knows who your racist ass is. Congratulations, everyone. You're all a bunch of morons.

Anonymous said...

To sum up:
If you are opposed to Kick Coke and you didn't write an e-mail to your student reps:

THIS IS YOUR FAULT. IT'S YOUR FAULT. DON'T LIKE IT? TOO FUCKING BAD. IT'S YOUR FAULT. HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO ACTUALLY PARTICIPATE IN DEMOCRACY? DECIDED YOU HAD SOMETHING BETTER TO DO? YOUR REPRESENTATIVES MADE DECISIONS YOU AREN'T HAPPY ABOUT? IT'S YOUR FUCKING FAULT.

This is exactly why the American political system is so fucked up. People only seem to have opinions when their conveniences are threatened.

Anonymous said...

i hope coke does get kicked.

as a lesson to everyone who sat around and did nothing even though they obviously had vehement opinions.

Anonymous said...

I really didn't know I needed to worry about coke, I had other stuff to worry about. I actually have things to do. Vote tuesday.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU 3:17AM!

Anonymous said...

SEAN KOERNER:

Even if it is true that only 15-25% of students answer student-opinion polls, this is no reason to ignore those polls. To the contrary, if only a fourth of the students care enough about an issue to put in the effort of responding, then these are the students that should be listened to. The minority is not "imposing its views on the majority" if the minority are the only ones bothering to participate in the democratic process. If a majority of people are against something, they should get off their asses and express their opinion. if not, then they have given up their say in the matter and should be disregarded.

As someone who did take the time to email you my opinion regarding the resolution, i find it shocking and disconcerting that you would disregard my opinion because it was "not a representative poll," for the sole reason other lazy/apathetic people couldn't be bothered to respond.

Why on earth should anyone vote for you in the future when you profess to ignore their opinions? You self-righteously declare that you will not represent your constituents. You are replacing a "dictatorship of a minority of students" with a dictatorship of an even smaller number of students - 1 - yourself. This is a FAR more "slippery slope" than listening to vocal constituents.

Sean Koerner, Noyes Prez said...

Anonymous, addressed to me:

There are several reasons why, in this isolated example (emphasis on isolated), I chose to not vote exactly as the slim majority (8 of 15) of my responding constituents told me to.

First: I will never vote for anything that restricts others' freedom of choice based upon any majority, whether 100 to 1 or 8 of 15. My chief contention with kicking coke is that it's a small, vocal, unelected group of students making policy choices for their peers. I favor introducing alternatives and letting the market kick coke itself, because THAT is the most representative polling of student opinion - how we consume. If as drastic a majority of students support kicking coke as postulated by Kick Coke, then the problem would solve itself. I find it disconcerting that this was so unpalatable to the Kick Coke campaign - if they really believe that they are voicing a majority opinion, they should embrace the market solution, which would precisely and accurately determine student opinion.

Now, regarding your assertion that I "ignore [student] opinions." As I stated in the beginning of the discussion, this debate should not have been about which students feel what way - it should have been about the veracity and severity of the alleged human rights and environmental violations. Personally, I find it disappointing that the Kick Coke campaign utilized propaganda and visceral imagery to mobilize a small, zealous group of students to restrict the choices of others based on tenuous data. That's why, in this specific example, I did not feel that polled student opinion was representative of student opinion as a whole - and how can you expect me to ignore the weakness of the polling data while supporting the weaknesses in evidential data of human rights violations?

Finally, as far as your "dictatorship" comments. I used "tyranny of the majority" in my arguments because popular support does not a correct and righteous decision make. As far as accusing me of dictatorship, remember that I was voted into office, as were every other member of council except for Ferry Haus Rep, since that Haus does not follow a hierarchical organization system. I voted as a representative concerned with the tenuous support of the resolution, datawise, and the dangerous trend of abjectly kneeling before every mob of majority.

If you have any other questions, comments, or concerns, I urge you to write me at my email: sekoerner@vassar.edu, or stop by my room (Noyes 314). Finally: why would you not name yourself when attacking my position?

Anonymous said...

You know what?

Maybe VSA's constituents had other fucking things to do when this resolution passed, than go to a meeting about some ridiculous shit and try to argue with the student activists.

And you know what else?

That doesn't mean they lose their right to complain. When Congress passes something, you lose your right to complain about it? Wait what? When did that happen? Sometimes, when Congress passes some fucked up shit, enough angry people makes them reverse the shit.

The majority of the students are gonna keep complaining, and I think they're going to win. Because this is really just over the top. I hope this puts an end to all of this type of shit at Vassar.

Anonymous said...

tyranny of the majority = democracy

Sean Koerner, Noyes Prez said...

For the record:

Tyranny of the majority = republic
Representatives making informed decisions = democracy

We are a democracy.

hammerhead said...

@sean
i'm sorry-- but who is we?

Anonymous said...

republic, n. (and a.)
{dag}1. The state, the common weal. Obs.


2. a. A state in which the supreme power rests in the people and their elected representatives or officers, as opposed to one governed by a king or similar ruler; a commonwealth. Now also applied loosely to any state which claims this designation.

--OED

Sean Koerner, Noyes Prez said...

My mistake - I was referring to a "pure republiuc," wherein every member gets one vote on every issue, and majority rules. Our democracy (and by "we" I meant the VSA, which includes all students, hammerhead) is a form of republic where representatives are elected to make informed decisions on behalf of their constituents - not listen blindly to the relatively uninformed public whim. I'm not saying that all VC students are uninformed; I'm just saying this because personally, I spent about 8 hours researching this before the meeting - something I doubt most students have the time to do. Thus, student opinion as judged by the polls was not as valid as informed representative opinion, reached based up careful and nonbiased examination of available facts.

Anonymous said...

whatever sean your just trying to get on moey newbold's good side again

Anonymous said...

a pure republic would be still representative government. pure democracy is one vote for every person. did you pass 8th grade social science?

Sean Koerner, Noyes Prez said...

9:14, you're right - I mixed up republic and democracy. My bad. My point still stands, then, but with those two terms switched. So embarrassing!

Anonymous said...

Coca-Cola iz teh FREEDOM!!!
Everytime u drink a different brand a bald eagle dies, and obama cries.
DON'T MAKE OBAMA CRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I love Obama! I hate unions. YAY AMERICA!!
OBAMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!