Each month, an esteemed panel of Students for Bhopal members, Nobel
Prize-winning croquet players, and whoopee cushion dancers selects
two SfB Award Winners: the SfB Student of the Month and the Dow
Loser of the Month. Previous award winners are featured below.
Student of the Month
Loser of the Month
November 2005: Ariana Toth, Oakland
Paparazzi follow her
Why is Ariana the SfB Student of the Month?
It’s a fair question. After all, her skill at croquet,
revelatory clarinet compositions, and her intimate knowledge
of Harry Potter trivia may impress the United Nations or
the scientific community, but we have stringent standards.
What has she done for Bhopal…lately?
Here’s what. Last Wednesday, Ariana led a troop of
Oakland University and University of Michigan students straight
to Dow’s doorstep, protesting
all day in front of their world headquarters in Midland,
Michigan. Although the weather was bitterly cold, the students
waved banners, shouted slogans, and heard lies from that
plentiful font, Dow Public Affairs man Scott Wheeler.
The Bhopal protest was the first organized by Ariana and
the Oakland chapter of Amnesty International, but already
they’re planning to join the University of Michigan
protest planned for the anniversary. Folks this active aren’t
just a thorn in Dow’s side, but an inspiration to
us all. Congratulations Ariana, SfB’s Student
of the Month.
2005: Scott Wheeler
A good day
Amidst so many qualified candidates, this month’s
choice was a difficult one. As you can imagine, the competition
was fierce: within the past few weeks Dow helped launch $100
million public relations campaign, begged
for Congressional help while rolling
in profits that jumped 30%, and announced plans to expand
in India on the heels of an ICJB
campaign which thwarted one of their major new ventures.
But one can’t help but admire the stamina of Scott Wheeler,
Dow’s Public Relations spokesman and liar for hire.
After all, lying can be a strenuous thing, particularly in
the face of probing questions by university students. Yet
Scott held his ground, and when confronted
on Wednesday by Ariana, Jayanthi, and Nafisah - Oakland
University and University of Michigan students - little of
what he said resembled the truth. Far from it: Scott boldly
claimed that Dow was not, in fact, suing
Bhopal survivors for a 2002 protest outside their Indian
headquarters, and went so ludicrously far as to claim Dow
has no facilities in India and therefore the “Indian
headquarters” does not exist. Lying may require stamina,
but one thing it doesn’t require is fact-checking: a
simple visit to Dow’s website is enough to show
Scott for a fool. And that, my friends, has earned Scott
Wheeler the inaugural spot as Dow Loser of the Month.
December 2005: Jayanthi
Reddy, University of Michigan
She hugs everyone
Appearances can be deceiving. It’s
true that Jayanthi may look like a kitten-loving, children-cuddling,
cookie-baking and laughter-making young college student,
but as Dow has learned she’s more like the Terminator:
intimidating, ruthless, and utterly bent on their destruction
(or at least justice for Bhopal). She’s like a machine:
over the past few weeks Jayanthi participated in two major
protests against Dow (at their headquarters
the Board of Directors), enduring the stench of Dow’s
public relations and the corruption of the Midland police
with that quiet smile that makes your hair stand on end.
She was also the force behind two
major consecutive events on the UM campus: a skit dramatizing
the disaster and a public art project, memorializing the
disaster, which was donated to the University.
Students this intimidating don’t just frighten Dow;
they inspire us to dig deep and find the Terminator in all
of us. Congratulations Jayanthi, SfB’s Student
of the Month.
2005: William Stavropoulos
This month’s choice was easy. I mean, how often do
you literally witness a powerful
man piss his pants? Not that often. And though Stavropoulos
may not have done so he certainly reacted out of abject fear,
calling his private security service and the police rather
than talk to six college students and Bhopal supporters about
the disaster he’s helped perpetuate. It’s not
out of character: in 2003, when Stavropoulos served as Dow
CEO, he sat through a 30-minute private meeting (arranged
by his public relations department) with Bhopal survivors
on an indefinite hunger strike. He refused to look at them
as they spoke of the disaster, their loss, and the catastrophe
Bhopal remains today, and when he spoke the words were a cold
What an asshole.
It was Stavropoulos’ idea, by the way, to buy Carbide
in the first place. He saw the process through as Dow CEO,
and started off by lying to Dow’s
shareholders and the US Securities and Exchange Commission
(a federal crime) about the liabilities Carbide faced in Bhopal.
It’s a pattern he’s continued at every opportunity.
No wonder he was so frightened by people who know the truth.
Or maybe it was Jayanthi.
Jeers to William Stavropoulos, Dow’s Loser of
2006: AID Austin
There sure is a lot of them.
The members of AID
Austin may not be perfect. Few of them would be able to
express the mathematical formalism of String Theory in Cantonese,
and not even the best musician among them could do justice
to Beethoven’s Fur Elise playing a kazoo. None
of them – not a single one – has spawned a new
religion. Yet you shouldn’t hold this against them.
Thanks to their efforts, Dow has been condemned, reviled,
and nearly ostracized from the campus of one of the nation’s
That’s gotta put a crimp in Dow’s stride.
What have they done? Well, in the culmination of a year-long
campaign, they have:
..........• Passed not one
but two student government resolutions
denouncing Dow, calling for University action, and threatening
the future of Dow’s relationship with (and its business
interests at) the University of Texas.
..........• Made Bhopal
the most talked-about campus issue of the year.
..........• Turned Dow into
something radioactive – the company that no one wants
to associate with or be seen with; the company you only talk
about in low whispers.
the broader issue of corporate accountability – the
Graduate Student resolution calls for an administrative review
mechanism to look into the ethics of all corporate donors
..........• Blazed the trail
for other campaigns and universities to follow their example.
..........• Raised the profile
of their AID chapter on campus, developed solid relationships
with other student groups, and attracted new recruits.
That’s gotta make Dow wince.
"The students' proposal may possibly be well-meaning,"
said Scot Wheeler, a Dow Spokesman. "But a closer look
shows the bill is misguided. If they want to have an impact,
focus on the government in Madhya Pradesh."
You know, you can almost hear him gritting his teeth.
Congratulations to AID Austin, SfB’s Chapter
of the Month!
2006: Andrew Liveris, CEO
Schmoozing with the Indian Finance
Andrew Liveris is the CEO of Dow. He’s
also delusional: he seems to think that Dow can expand its
business in India as though nothing – and I don’t
want to name names here, but this would be Bhopal –
hangs over its head like an executioner’s axe. “From
a chemicals and plastics perspective, the Indian subcontinent
has a high potential for growth,” he
says. “If we are to share in that growth, we need
to be more closely linked with what’s going on in the
Clearly this is true. It just happens to be Dow’s misfortune
that they – uh – let’s see:
..........• continue to
harbor their subsidiary Union Carbide
from criminal charges of “culpable homicide”
(manslaughter) in Bhopal, which 18
members of the US Congress described as a “blatant
disregard for the law”;
..........• continue to
ignore the chemical wasteland Carbide left behind in Bhopal,
which continues to contaminate and kill those near it, in
violation of India’s Polluter Pays laws;
..........• continue to
keep secret much of their medical information about the health
effects of the leaked gases - information that doctors could
use to save lives - claiming it as a “trade secret”;
..........• continue to
Bhopal survivors for a peaceful protest in 2002.
And Liveris thinks Dow can just waltz in? He must be dreaming.
He’s certainly giving it his best effort. In the past
six months Liveris has twice met privately with the Indian
Prime Minister – once at a luncheon meeting in New York
this past September, and again on March 2nd when Liveris accompanied
President Bush to India. As a direct outcome of these meetings,
Dow is considering investing in two proposed petrochemical
complexes – one in Haldia in West Bengal and the other
in Vizag in Andhra Pradesh – in addition to the new
silicon facility which Dow Corning has already built in Ranjangaon,
No one would dispute that Mr. Liveris is a powerful man.
And it’s true that, like most powerful men, he may have
an inflated sense of his own power. But will he fight to the
death to see new Dow plants in Haldia and Vizag? I think not.
Yet tens of thousands of Bhopalis will fight Dow till their
last breath. That’s the irresistible power of nothing
– when you have nothing left to lose.
Obviously Mr. Liveris requires an education.
Jeers to Andrew Liveris, Dow’s Loser of the
2006: Boston Coalition for Justice in Bhopal
Boston is awesome! Hey, don’t take my
word for it:
“Boston rules” – Austin Powers
“Who doesn’t love Boston?” – The Terminator
“Boston is the place I want to be” – Confucius
“My heart longs for Boston” – Willie Nelson
They’re all speaking, of course, of the Boston Coalition
for Justice in Bhopal, which has been one of SfB’s most
active chapters over the past two years. A few examples:
..........• Organizing a
outside the Indian Consulate in New York, demanding justice
..........• Organizing a
protest on Boston Common on the 21st anniversary;
..........• Staging a die-in
at Copley Square to protest the 2006 Dow Shareholders
..........• Organizing within
four area colleges and universities to protest Dow recruiters
and raise awareness about Bhopal.
Their latest effort is successfully convincing
the City of Cambridge to pass two related Bhopal resolutions,
calling on the city to:
..........• Divest itself
of Dow bonds;
..........• Co-file the
Bhopal shareholders resolution;
..........• Boycott Dow
..........• Send a letter
of concern to the Dow Board of Directors and the Government
..........• Declare Dec.
3rd a day of remembrance for Bhopal
Dow must be gritting their teeth.
Congratulations to the Boston Coalition for Justice
in Bhopal, SfB’s Chapter of the Month!
2006: Jackie Barton
Proud to be a loser
Jackie Barton is a genius – she won the
prestigious MacArthur “Genius Award” fellowship
in 1991. Yet genius without conscience can be evil, and Jackie
appears to lack that innate sense of morality which ascribes
value to human life. We don’t know this for sure, of
course; we can only infer this from her long service with
Dow Chemical – she’s been on the Board for 13
consecutive years. Jackie was there when Dow decided to purchase
Union Carbide and all its liabilities, in 1999; she was there
when the deal was finally consummated in 2001. And she’s
been there every day since; casually deciding anew, each day,
that the people Carbide’s poisons are killing in Bhopal
should continue to die. Nor is Bhopal the only place where
Dow continues to reap a bitter harvest
of dead bodies, the unfortunate byproduct of their lust
for gold. Indeed Dow’s crimes are so heinous that they’ve
attracted the ire of the US
Congress (“…The manner in which Union Carbide
and Dow Chemical have ignored the summons of the Bhopal court…exposes
a blatant disregard for the law”) and Amnesty
International, which condemns Dow and Carbide for systematically
violating the human rights of the Bhopali people, even after
it gassed 20,000 of them to death.
So you can imagine our surprise that Jackie Barton seems
to think things are hunky-dory.
When confronted by an enterprising Amnesty supporter at Wesleyan
University, Jackie “went on for a while about how much
Dow cares about the environment and human rights.” She
claimed “Dow is leading other chemical companies in
responsibility” and “vehemently agreed”
that Dow should support and uphold global human rights standards.
Yet actions speak louder than words, and as Amnesty
International has systematically documented, Dow continues
to condemn tens of thousands of Bhopalis to wallow in the
poisons they left behind.
Is Jackie merely innocently ignorant of all this? Not at
all, as confrontations like those at Wesleyan have made clear.
Instead Jackie suffers from the affliction so common it’s
prerequisite among Dow board members: an absence of conscience.
Jeers to Jackie Barton, Dow’s Loser of the