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SfB Awards

The award

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.

 

SfB Student of the Month
Dow Loser of the Month

November 2005: Ariana Toth, Oakland University

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.

November 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 and against 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.

December 2005: William Stavropoulos

Scaredy-cat

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 dismissal: “I’msorrywecan’thelpyou.”

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 the Month.

Jan/Feb 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 leading universities.

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.
..........• Highlighted 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 to UT.
..........• 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, students should 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!

Jan/Feb 2006: Andrew Liveris, CEO

Schmoozing with the Indian Finance Minister

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 area.”

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 sue 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, Maharashtra.

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 Month.

October 2006: Boston Coalition for Justice in Bhopal

Totally awesome.

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 1500-student protest outside the Indian Consulate in New York, demanding justice for Bhopal;
..........• Organizing a public protest on Boston Common on the 21st anniversary;
..........• Staging a die-in at Copley Square to protest the 2006 Dow Shareholders Meeting;
..........• 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 products;
..........• Send a letter of concern to the Dow Board of Directors and the Government of India;
..........• 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!

October 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 Month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The international student campaign to hold Dow accountable for Bhopal, and its other toxic legacies around the world.
For more information about the campaign, or for problems regarding this website, contact
Shana Ortman, the US Coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Last updated: November 12, 2008

WE ALL LIVE IN BHOPAL

"The year 2003 was a special year in the history of the campaign for justice in Bhopal. It was the year when student and youth supporters from at least 30 campuses in the US and India took action against Dow Chemical or in support of the demands of the Bhopal survivors. As we enter the 20th year of the unfolding Bhopal disaster, we can, with your support, convey to Dow Chemical that the fight for justice in Bhopal is getting stronger and will continue till justice is done. We look forward to your continued support and good wishes, and hope that our joint struggle will pave the way for a just world free of the abuse of corporate power."

Signed/ Rasheeda Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationery Employees Union
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal