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Volume 2, Issue 1                            University of Houston

New contract could change campus vending machines

By Reagan Graham
Staff Writer

The UH System Board of Regents has approved a proposal for University officials to begin negotiations on a multimillion-dollar contract that could result in different soft drinks being sold in campus vending machines.

The University currently has an agreement with Pepsi to sell its beverages in vending machines. But interviews with the UH community revealed a preference for Coca-Cola over Pepsi products, and because the Pepsi contracts were nearing expiration, other options were considered.

Associate Vice President of Administration John Martin said there is still time before the University makes a final decision.

"The negotiations with the Coke contract are not finalized," Martin said. "If all goes well, assuming that we do (have them finalized), we're looking for a transition after Christmas break."

A Systemwide beverage-pouring committee is still in the process of reviewing proposals from Pepsi and Coca-Cola. The decision will affect every campus in the System.

Negotiating a beverage contract is one way the University hopes to better serve students.

"The University is always looking to be more profitable, more efficient and to better serve the students," Director of External Communications Cindy Suggs said.

Although several schools nationwide have recently re-negotiated their beverage vending contracts, some, like The University of Texas, don't operate under a campuswide agreement.

Beverage contracts at UT are handled by various departments such as athletics, housing and the Ex-Students Association, but deals are finalized through UT's business affairs department.

At Oklahoma State University, campus officials decided the revenue generated through vending would be no different if the school entered into an exclusive contract. Therefore, the school has no campuswide contract in place and has no plans for one.

Such a situation might appeal to UH communication professor Garth Jowett, who criticized the lack of freedom that comes when a school signs an exclusive beverage contract.

"It raises the whole issue of whether or not we should sell our souls to an American corporation," Jowett said.

He said a college community should be based on an open mind and the freedom of speech, and should not deny the right of free choice and free access to other vending machines.

For elementary education major Nicole Gordon, the decision is less esoteric: "I prefer Coke much more than Pepsi, which tastes like a tin can," she said.

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