College sets sights on Fair Trade certification

By Victoria Tarver
October 19, 2011

Cabrini is striving to officially become labeled as a Fair Trade University. Their process started last spring. Currently there is a Fair Trade committee writing a letter of support to be signed by President Dr. Marie George.

Fair Trade helps people in impoverished and developing countries to get a fair price for their products. For Cabrini’s campus, Fair Trade is a market-based approach that gives producers in developing nations fair prices, safe working conditions and community resources so that they can live healthy, sustainable lives.  The school is trying to educate the campus on Fair Trade through campus-wide events like Wallyball, ECG courses and Fair Trade tasting events.

During the month of October, there are Fair Trade banana splits and other items sold.

“Cabrini will begin offering a sequence of ECG courses (200 and 300) on Fair Trade beginning in the spring of 2012,” Erin McLaughlin, assistant professor of business administration, said.

There are five criteria that need to be followed to become a certified Fair Trade campus. The first is to form a committee, which was already formed on campus, chaired by Stephen Eberle, acting director of the Wolfingon Center. Sodexo, Cabrini’s dining services, has also joined with other campus groups for Fair Trade initiatives. Events held on campus normally have Fair Trade products available. This falls under the second requirement.

Bookstore Employee Valerie Golden explains fair trade attire offered in the school store to Kate Freyvogel. Such products, along with coffee, chocolate, bananas and others are offered at Cabrini.

Drew Niemann is the general manager of Cabrini’s dining services. He stated that Fair Trade is very important and is lasting at Cabrini. This issue is very important to the college and Sodexo’s missions.

There are many places on campus that have Fair Trade items. Along with the food, the bookstore and athletics are also using Fair Trade products. Dining Services offer coffee, sugar, chocolate, honey, some rice, black pepper, bananas (when available) Honest Tea and tea bags, Niemann said.

“So far there has not been Fair Trade Resolution and Fair Trade Procurement Policy developed,” McLaughlin said.

Dr. Mary Laver, former director of International Partnerships, wrote in an email: “The one big task left to accomplish is number four, a formal resolution and procurement policy.   But in order to reflect the input of ALL of the campus, the FT Committee (facilitated by Stephen Eberle) is doing two things before writing up any kind of resolution or proposing a policy: First is making a special effort to promote Fair Trade awareness at FT events this year, like the FT Wallyball tournament, and various ‘FT tasting’ events and ‘FT banana splits.’”

“The second part is making special short presentations to as many departments and organizations on campus as possible, to ask each of them what they would like to suggest or contribute to the “FTU” process.  For example, a department or organization might commit to having a certain number of event-items like t-shirts being Fair Trade,” Laver wrote.

There are also two new 200 and 300 level ECG courses being offered in the spring 2012 semester. McLaughlin as well as Laver, Mary Harris, Keith Brown (a professor at St. Joseph’s University) have received a CRS grant, to look at the impact of those courses.

The point of Cabrini officially becoming a Fair Trade university is to promote the values and benefits of Fair Trade and contribute to the growth of the global Fair Trade Movement. Cabrini was the first college to sign with Catholic Relief Services to support issues like Fair Trade and other global issues.

“What’s most important is that students understand exactly what Fair Trade is and who it is affecting, before students purchase the products and support the cause,” Niemann said.


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Victoria Tarver

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