We had a great action on Nov 9 at UC Berkeley and ruffled a lot of Dow feathers. A Senior VP of Dow was invited by the Business School to speak about Dow’s “green innovations.” The talk was called “From Suds to Speedways: How “Green” Ideas can Flow from Unexpected Taps” with Carol Dudley – who happens to be the highest ranking female executive at Dow. And yes, “green” was in quotation marks, even on Dow’s flier for the event. It was sponsored by Dow and the Center for Responsible Business, part of the Hass School of Business.
More than a dozen of us took the opportunity to confront Dow and tell UC Berkeley to Dump Dow from campus. We lined the hallway where the event was being held, holding photos of people affected by the ongoing disasters in Bhopal and Vietnam, where Dow’s poisons continue to kill and main innocent people. We were met by security gaurds, a building manager, a police officer, and a very stressed out event coordinator. Nearly everyone who attended the event was given information as well as an eyeful of reality before Dow’s greenwash was shoved down their throats. Because the event was public, they were able to keep out our visuals, but not the 6 or so of us who went into the event to ask Ms. Dudley questions about Dow’s real “green legacy.”
Facing about a dozen questions about Bhopal, Vietnam, Midland, and other Dow problems, Dudley looked like quite a Dud.
Dudley got through about 5 minutes of her presentation before we started asking questions. For some reason that I don’t understand, Dudley called on us over and over again, even though each of our questions floored her into silence. After the first question about Bhopal, she said “you’re clearly very passionate about Bhopal, and Bhopal was a very big tragedy, but I’m not the person to talk to about it. I’d be happy to talk to you after and give you the contact information for someone who is.” When our questions continued, she clammed up after each question and looked desperately to the other Dow and Business school sell-outs to respond. All they could say in response was that it was an “inappropriate time to discuss this” and offered to talk to us later.
My favorite part was when Dudley talked about how life is like a pizza pie, and you have to decide how to slice it up — you decide how much of your pie goes to your life at work and your life at home, or school, etc. So, I raised my hand, and she for some reason called on me again and I asked “So, when you were slicing up your pizza, how big of a piece did you slice to go towards making greenwashing presentations like this one; and is it hard for you to do this work, living in Midland, MI, where Dow has caused the largest Dioxin pollution site on a 22 mile stretch, knowing that Dioxins are linked to breast cancers and other cancers and health problems.” The question was met with a blank stare from the Dud and hostility and defensiveness from a Hass Business School director, who claimed that this presentation wasn’t greenwashing. Davis Baltz from Commonweal did a great job then explaining how everything about this presentation was greenwashing, and that Dow had bought there way into this school in order to greenwash.
After the presentation I tried to take Dud up on the offer to speak with her about the issue after her presentation. I introduced myself, and she immediately turned around and ignored me. The Dow employee that is housed on Berkeley campus did speak to me, and took our materials. Davis had managed to sneak in a sign that said “DOW OUT OF UC BERKELEY”.
Dudley left showing clear signs of frustration, and the Berkeley business school were at a loss to justify their relationship with Dow.
Want to tell your school to Dump their Dow? Learn how at: http://studentsforbhopal.org/?q=node/61