UR Curious is back! We asked readers to send in their questions about the University of Richmond. We picked five of them, and our reporters have found the answers for you. One question and answer will be published each day this week. Read the other stories in the series here. And keep being curious.
Everything Convenience has started to serve Pepsi products despite the University of Richmond being one of the many campuses to have a pouring-rights contract with Coca-Cola.
“Most of what we know about these contracts come from public universities,” Joe Gibson, professor of law and Pepsi aficionado, said. ”The usual trade-off is some amount of money from the beverage company to the school in exchange for the school's agreement that, at least, all official functions and dining halls, that producer’s beverages are provided.”
In addition to this, UR's food waiver request includes an agreement with Coca-Cola that states that school events must serve products purchased directly from the local Coca-Cola bottler.
Maya Vincelli, assistant director of retail operations, confirmed Gibson’s comments.
“Per the University’s contract with Coke, campus events are required to serve Coke products,” Vincelli said in an email.
Despite these rules, retail locations are still permitted to serve competing products.
“We have a small variance in our contract that allows us to sell some competing products in retail units,” Vincelli said in an email. “We primarily use this to add items requested by students, or bring in local products.”
Gibson explained that these variances are the result of the particular negotiation between the company and the school.
Sentiment among student organizers was ambivalent.
SpiderBoard member Daniel Scherzer said he was unaware of the presence of Pepsi products at ETC. Event catering is typically provided by the Heilman Dining Center, he added, which is bound by the Coke contract.
Climbing club president and SEEDS leader Lydia DuBois echoed these comments. Although she was aware of the Coca-Cola contract, DuBois said the contract did not impede any planned events.
Some students have expressed their delight with the options. Sophomore and soda enthusiast Charles Hodgson is one such person.
“I like having them,” Hodgson said. “I like the variety.”
The contracts also serve as a way of creating brand loyalty, Gibson said.
“The company wants to maintain their exclusivity because, after all, you’re dealing with a campus full of students who will probably be lifelong beverages drinkers,” Gibson said. “[The company is] trying to get them to identify with one brand.”
The contract benefits many different departments as well, Blake Widdowson, the director of retail operations, said.
Although it is unknown what the university receives from the agreement because of transparency laws, these agreements typically provide scholarships, recycling, special events and even free products.
“A long standing byproduct of serving our communities has been the development of meaningful relationships with outstanding partners,” said vice president of communications for Coca-Cola Consolidated Brian Nick in an email. “We’re committed to finding ways where we can collaborate with the school to achieve positive results.”
Contact news writer Ben Wasserstein at email@example.com.