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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

What is a fair-trade university?

What is a fair-trade university?

How St. Joe’s is a fair-trade university and nobody knows

Have you ever walked into Campion Food Court (DB) and seen the mural by the coffee station? If you have seen it, it might be difficult to ascertain the meaning behind it since most of the mural is taken up by a giant painting of grapes. But if you investigate further, you would notice that in small writing on the mural it says that St. Joe’s  is a fair-trade university. Upon reading that sign, your next initial thought might be: “What the heck is a fair-trade university?”

If the small words in the mural are any indication of how this school treats its fair-trade certification, then it is no wonder why students either don’t know what a fair-trade university is, or they are unaware that St. Joe’s is one.

Since attending a fair-trade university and joining the fair-trade club on campus (yes, we have a fair-trade club), I have received many questions about the ins-and-outs of fair trade and about our school’s involvement in this practice. So, to get the truth out, I have laid out the answers to some of these questions.

Question: What is fair trade?

Answer: The World Fair Trade Organization defines fair trade as “a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers.” Fair trade is about fair prices, safe and healthy working conditions, sustainable practices, and fair terms of trade for warmers, producers, and workers in developing countries. Fair trade transcends economic concepts, it is about empowering producers around the world to have a say in their future and reach their full potential.

Question: What does it mean to be a fair-trade university?

Answer: A fair-trade certified university is a university committed to ensuring there are as many fair-trade products as possible available on campus. These types of universities also strive to promote and support fair trade with the help of administration, students, and staff. Everyone on campus is aware of the benefits that fair trade brings to global producers and of the impact that fair-trade purchases have in terms of sustainability and economic prosperity for developing countries.

Question: Is St. Joe’s the only fair trade university?

Answer: There are 53 fair-trade universities within the United States. We are not the only Jesuit fair-trade university either. St. Joe’s is in the company of Jesuit fair-trade universities such as Creighton University, Loyola Marymount University, and Seattle University.

Question: This fair-trade stuff sounds great,why doesn’t St. Joe’s let its students know about their fair trade certification and products?

For this question, there is not a clear answer. Since coming to St. Joe’s and accidentally stumbling upon the fair-trade club, I have always wondered why more students don’t know about fair trade on campus. The only conclusion I have reached is that this university has never made fair trade a priority.

From the uninformative mural in DB  to the overall non-existent promotional efforts of fair trade, to the dearth of fair-trade products in the dining facilities and bookstore this university has shown time and time again that it does not deserve the fair-trade certification. This lack of awareness and prioritization is also troubling since fair trade aligns perfectly with most Jesuit values.

If we espouse Cura Personalis, commitment to human dignity and development of the whole person, then why do we continue to exploit producers and not help them reach their full potential? If we are men and women with and for others, then why do we neglect and deny economic prosperity to struggling farmers in developing countries? Once again, I do not have answers to these questions. I only hope that one day St. Joe’s  will answer these questions with action.

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  • A

    Agung AlitJan 24, 2019 at 2:25 am

    Happy to read this article and happy to hear that St Jose’s is fair trade University.
    We are from Bali and our organitation Called : Mitra Bali Fair Trade. Since 1993 we worked to support Bali artisans through fair trade principle and we can convince you that fair trade is the best way to support the people/producer and the planet, from Bali, Indonesia and on behalf of our team and artisan that we are working with, we would like to thank you to all of you there for supporting fair trade and congratulations for being Fair Trade University.

  • H

    Hanna GreveliusJan 4, 2019 at 8:31 am

    Great article. The university world is certainly interesting – universities and colleges could have such a great impact on society and the environment.

    Thanks for sharing this!