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May 29, 2007

Smith College Discontinues Contract with Coca-Cola

Smith College President Carol T. Christ sent the following letter to Coca-Cola notifying the corporation that it will not be permitted to participate in the college's upcoming soft drink bidding process.

May 25, 2007

Diana Garza
Director, Issues Management
Coca-Cola North America
One Coca-Cola Plaza
Atlanta, GA 30308

Dear Ms. Garza,

I am writing to confirm our decision about the renewal of our Coca-Cola contract.  In my letter of May 15, 2007, I conveyed to you that, after considerable review and deliberation, Smith College’s Soft Drink Advisory Committee had recommended that Smith not permit the Coca-Cola Corporation to participate in its upcoming soft drink bidding process. You asked if you and a group of your colleagues could meet with us to try to change our minds.  The meeting was not persuasive in altering our view. I have consequently accepted the committee’s recommendation. In light of Coca-Cola’s business practices in Colombia and India, Smith will preclude Coca-Cola from the list of approved bidders when we enter the contract renewal process later this summer.

This is not a decision reached lightly. Smith’s relationship with Coca-Cola spans some five decades; over the years, we have enjoyed positive interactions with our local distributor, which has supplied both bulk dispensers in our dining halls and vending machines throughout the campus. We conveyed our emerging unease to Coca-Cola President Donald Knauss two years ago, in a letter I wrote highlighting our concerns about issues related to union organizing and environmental degradation. We urged the company to address growing problems in these areas.

In reaching its recommendation, the Soft Drink Advisory Committee, comprised of faculty, staff and students, followed a careful process. It conducted an extensive review of written materials provided both by Coca-Cola and the Coke Off Campus national organization. It then gave representatives from both groups the opportunity to discuss the concerns raised by the committee. As I relayed to you, a significant majority of the committee did not feel that Coca-Cola responded persuasively to the committee’s questions and concerns.

As a private college with a public conscience, Smith College takes issues of human rights and environmental sustainability very seriously. Social responsibility is a core value of the college, one we aspire to reflect in our educational mission and in our campus operations. In severing our ties with the Coca-Cola Corporation, Smith joins other institutions and organizations around the world in urging Coca-Cola to take significant steps toward more responsible business practices across all realms of its operations.


Carol T. Christ


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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