EDITORIAL | What’s so hard about being fair?

By Amanda Finnegan
February 8, 2007

Being fair. Seemingly simple and obvious, yet we are so far from it. From College of New Jersey in Ewing to University of California in La Jolla, students are taking a stand in the fight to make things fair and it’s time Cabrini joined them.

Fair Trade is not only paying workers in other countries fair wages and assuring fair labor conditions, it is a guarantee for a sustainable life. Fair Trade is essential in breaking the cycle of poverty. An investment in Fair Trade is an investment in the futures of these farmers and workers. It then teaches the farmers to invest in their own futures, develop business skills and preserve the environment.

Our government has just decided to raise the minimum wage on the United States almost $2, yet we still refuse to pay foreign workers enough to feed their families. There are more than 1 billion people living on less than $1 a day.

On Valentine’s Day, students and faculty will come together for a Fair Trade “Walleyball” tournament to learn about the issue of Fair Trade. Select members of the campus community have been planning the event for weeks and we hope it will be the beginning of a long-term awareness on campus.

The games will be played with Fair Trade volleyballs and Fair Trade chocolate will be available to purchase. Also, teams will be given Fair Trade t-shirts to wear. This is the first really major event on campus with regards to Fair Trade and hopefully it won’t be the last. It definitely shouldn’t be the last.

Cabrini needs to think bigger. What if we sold Fair Trade Cabrini t-shirts and hoodies in the bookstore? What if there were Fair Trade chocolate items available at the cafeteria dessert station? What if there was only Fair Trade coffee served in Jazzman’s?

Jazzman’s does not serve Fair Trade coffee. Instead they serve a “water-downed” version called Rainforest Alliance. This certification does promise a higher minimum wage, but not a fair wage. It also sets certain environmental standards for farmers to meet that support forest and wildlife conservation. Fair Trade does it better.

The coffee blends only need to have 30 percent of the Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee to be considered a certified blend. Jazzman’s currently only serves one blend that is 100 percent certified coffee. This is good, but Cabrini can certainly do better.

Five minutes down the road is a university making huge strides towards the cause. Villanova University’s dining service serves fair trade coffee in every dining location. Along with coffee, Fair Trade chocolate is also sold on campus. When it is available, their dining services purchases Fair Trade produce and is currently looking into only supplying fair trade rice.

Villanova has shown us that it is possible. Our administration has the power to make the change and the students have the power to influence the administration. Mandating in our contract to Sodexho that we want Fair Trade products in our dining halls is one option. We have the power to affect change and it is our social responsibility to make these choices.

People on campus are finally taking notice, but we can still do more. It can’t be the same group of people every time, trying to make a change on campus. The entire Cabrini community needs to come together around this cause. It is something so easy to participate in, if we would all just pay a little bit more attention.

Why do we have to fight so hard for something that is fair? All this time and energy is being put into a campaign for something that we should already be doing in the first place. Paying workers a fair wage for the goods they produce shouldn’t be a debatable item, it should be a given.

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Amanda Finnegan

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