Cabrini College is in the early stages of becoming a certified Fair Trade institution.
“We’re taking baby steps to incorporate it [Fair Trade] into the normal business and policies of the school,” Hannah Wheat, Catholic Relief Services Fair Trade Ambassador, said.
Fair Trade, a social movement that helps developing countries have better trading conditions and wages, makes sure corporations pay producers fairly for their work as well as following other environmental and social conditions in the production of specific goods.
In order to be considered a Fair Trade institution, the school needs to follow a certain criteria.
The school must create a Fair Trade policy that incorporates the following goals:
First, Fair Trade foods must be made available for sale in all campus shops. This means food must be used in all cafes, stores and restaurants on campus. If this is not possible, the establishment must make a commitment that they will use Fair Trade products once they are made available.
Second, Fair Trade foods must be served at all meetings hosted by the institution. Fair Trade foods must also be served in all of the management offices on campus.
Third, there must be a commitment to campaign for more Fair Trade consumption on campus. The campaigns and publicity must include campaigning for trade justice and Fair Trade Fortnight.
Lastly, a Fair Trade Steering Group must be created on campus and there must be a representative from each of these groups: residential/catering organization, the institution’s authority and the student union executive.
“When talking about Fair Trade, many people confuse it with Fair Labor,” Michele Kennedy, manager of Cabrini’s bookstore, said.
Fair Labor deals with the fact that vendors must be abiding by specific laws when producing their products.
Cabrini’s bookstore is run through Follet Higher Education Group and 99 percent of the corporate vendors Follet uses for their products are Fair Labor.
“We’re always looking to commit to whatever the school is looking for,” Kennedy said.
Wheat says that the CRS Ambassadors plan to start small in their efforts to become a Fair Trade institution.
“We want to have a t-shirt or a hat to begin with. One piece of Fair Trade clothing to kind of introduce it all,” Wheat said.
It’s often assumed that Fair Trade products only deal with food but this is not the case.
Fair Trade clothing makes sure all the resources they use for the clothes have no connection to sweat shops or any other act that does not treat the workers fairly.
In addition, Fair Trade ensures that all resources are conflict free, meaning that no resources came from slave labor.
Heather Cardamone, director of administrative services at Cabrini, said via email that as a member of the CRS committee she was asked to create a Fair Trade institution subcommittee.
Cardamone says Cabrini is still beginning to become certified, but it will soon be officially established and focused on these five goals to make this school an official Fair Trade institution.