Fair Trade has been at the forefront of the social justice movement for years and now Cabrini is taking note. The campus is currently trying to bring the cause to the students, faculty and staff and create long-term awareness.
Cabrini is kicking off its push into fair trade with an event on Valentine’s Day. Dr. Mary Harris, assistant professor of business administration, and her finance class are spearheading the effort.
They are assisted by the Athletic Department and the staff from the Dixon Center along with the help of a seminar 300 class and some of the resident assistants. Catholic Relief Services is also helping to sponsor the event. Together, they are putting together a fair trade chocolate sale and a fair trade “walleyball” tournament.
“Once you’re aware of an injustice you need to react. You just can’t ignore the problem,” Jackie Neary, coordinator of student-athlete wellness and head field hockey and lacrosse coach, said. Neary has been involved with the planning of the game and hopes to have more events like it in the future.
This will be one of the first major Fair Trade events Cabrini has held. It is important to notice, however, what kind of involvement Fair Trade in general has on campus already.
The short answer is not very much. Other college food services provide only Fair Trade coffee on campuses and their bookstores sell Fair Trade clothing. This is not true at Cabrini.
The college has sponsored fair trade chocolate sales and a vendor from Global Gifts, a store that sells fair trade items exclusively, has held sales here as well. But as far as a long-term establishment, it has yet to be seen.
“If we can spend our dollar in ways that bring a more just and compassionate way of living to families around the world, that would be a great way to celebrate our Cabrinian identity,” Dr. Mary Laver, director of applied Catholic social teaching, said.
When something is fair trade certified, it means that the workers are not only guaranteed a fair wage, but also fair labor conditions, direct trade with suppliers and community involvement programs. Fair trade certification also promotes environmental sustainability and prohibits the use of harmful chemicals, according to the Fair Trade Certified website.
Dining services and the bookstores are places that colleges have started to implement fair trade products. The most popular fair trade items are coffee and chocolate. Food, clothing, jewelry and handicrafts are all also available as fair trade certified items. They are well-established and easily accessible. Fair trade coffee can now even be bought in many stores, including Costco, Starbucks and Wal-Mart.
“It is our intention here, as we see that you guys, the students, are becoming more and more concerned about this, that we’re actually going more and more towards that,” Drew Niemann, the general manager of dining services, said.
Sodexho, the campus’ dining services provider, requires all suppliers to sign a code of conduct that states Sodexho’s policies regarding child labor, wages and benefits, working hours, environmental guidelines, etc.
“We are trying to do our part in the effort,” Niemann said.