Campus vending contract set to expire in 2012

The University of Miami is under a beverage contract with Coca-Cola, which has locked out all other competitive companies from promoting on campus.

Under this contract, competitive companies, such as Red Bull, are forbidden from promoting their products on campus and must hold all events off-campus.

In order for other companies to be able to legally distribute and host on-campus events, the Coca-Cola contract will have to expire and companies will need to enter a bidding process.

This contract is set to expire in June 2012, after which the University will conduct requests for proposal.

However, other products competing with Coca-Cola such as Red Bull and Pepsi are not completely banned.

The Convenience Store, located at the University Center (UC), is the only place that non Coca-Cola products, like Red Bull, can be purchased.

“Red Bull is available for sale at the Convenience Store on campus, however free distribution and on-campus sampling has not been allowed,” said Ana Alvarez the Director of Auxiliary Services.

In order to prevent a violation of this contract, all promotional events must be approved in advance.

Daniel Westbrook, the director of the UC, said there are guidelines any organization, UM-affiliated or not, must follow in order to promote an event on campus.

“We do not make reservations for companies that directly compete with standing, established business contracts or operations on the UM campus,” Westbrook said.

This restriction encompasses many different activities.

“For example, over the years we have been asked to allow, but we do not permit, someone to set up a table to sell UM logo T-shirts outside the bookstore; we do not rent rooms to test preparation companies except for the UM-affiliated one; and we do not bring direct competition to Coca-Cola on campus in violation of Coke’s contract with the U,” Westbrook said.

All companies that promote on campus are required to follow UM’s Solicitation policies.

“This governs how aggressively they may market, what areas on campus they may use, what personal information they may collect from students, and other policies intended to keep them from bothering students who may not want to be ‘sold’ to,” Westbrook said.

According to Westbrook, there have been times when last-minute things have occurred.

“Sometimes things happen that we do not find out about until the day-of, or possibly even afterward,” he said. “If the event is in violation of any of our policies, the sponsoring student group is held responsible and penalties may be imposed.”

With the contract expiring in June 2012, companies will have the option to participate in the bidding process that occurs.

“Companies are invited to participate in the bid process managed by University Purchasing and the timeline can vary per bid,” Alvarez said.

Many students are unaware of the Coca-Cola contract UM is under and the exclusive ‘Coke-only’ vending machines go unnoticed.

Connie Fossi, a junior, feels that something should be done about this beverage contract being exclusive to Coca-Cola products.

“I think this has to change because you cannot pretend that all the students drink and like the same beverage,” she said.