The Union of UEA Students has opened itself up to accusations of hypocrisy by placing tables and umbrellas displaying Coca Cola branding and imagery outside Unio coffee shop. Last summer, four Union officers refused to accept an award from the NUS, as the Gala event was partially sponsored by Coca Cola.
Jo Swo, Yinbo Yu, Chris Jarvis and Liam McCafferty instead walked onto stage carrying a banner declaring “Boycott Coca Cola: Free Palestine”, as a form of protest against the establishment of Coca Cola production factories in Israeli Palestinian settlements. The Union’s actions at the NUS event were in line with the principle of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions policy. This is a global movement known colloquially as BDS. It is intended as a “global citizen’s response” to the State of Israel’s alleged occupation of the Palestinian territory.
The tables have appeared on Union property during the exam term, despite these earlier protests.
When asked for comment regarding the discrepancies between last summer’s protest action and the clear branding on this campus equipment and the potential hypocrisy this represents, the Union refused to comment, instead referring Concrete back to last summer’s statements.
Chris Jarvis, Campaigns and Democracy officer, said at the time that the decision to carry out that protest was taken “in line with our own Union of UEA Students policy in support of the BDS movement, and in solidarity with the 9 NUS Full-time officers and 11 other members of the NUS NEC, we have chosen to withdraw our support from the NUS Awards 2015,”
The Union said at the time that: “The Union’s management committee took a majority vote to not to accept the award at the ceremony itself, due to the NUS Awards and Gala dinner being partly sponsored by Coca Cola Enterprises Ltd.”