The designation from Fair Trade Colleges & Universities, a national initiative that began in 2008, recognizes the university’s commitment to using goods produced according to rigorous standards that address fair prices and wages, safe working conditions, and environmental sustainability. The commitment also includes integrating educational and advocacy efforts for Fair Trade into the school’s culture.
“We are honored and excited to receive this designation,” said USD Executive Vice President and Provost Julie Sullivan. “Our commitment to Fair Trade reflects our Catholic moral and social tradition to work for peace and justice in order to create a more humane world. While we have made significant progress in these efforts, we know there is much more we can do in the years ahead.”
Under the application process that began last fall, USD has demonstrated its efforts to make Fair Trade products available in its dining and retail outlets. At least two Fair Trade products, such as coffee and teas, are available in all campus outlets including its Aromas coffee shop and “Tu Mercado” market. The university has committed to include and increase the sale of Fair Trade products such as handicrafts, jewelry and clothing in its Torero Store. Fair Trade products are used, whenever possible, for internal university meetings and events. USD has also developed a Fair Trade committee and resolution committing itself to “embed Fair Trade principles and practices within the social and academic culture of the campus community.”
USD has a long history of bringing leaders for Fair Trade and sustainable practices to campus, including coffee producers from Mexico and speakers from Catholic Relief Services. Through CRS, which has been a major supporter in these efforts, USD is developing a partnership with the Maya Vinic coffee cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico to help students to understand issues of poverty, inequality and human rights abuses. Faculty plan to integrate Fair Trade principles into their curriculum and the university also plans to revive a “Follow Your Cup” campaign to educate students about the production of Fair Trade goods and spread awareness of these issues.
“USD’s achievement of Fair Trade status is yet another impressive accomplishment in its commitment to social and economic justice and sustainability, said David Funkhouser, Strategic Relations Manager at Fair Trade USA, sponsor of Fair Trade Colleges & Universities. “I hope USD’s leadership will inspire other institutions to join the growing number of colleges and universities that are incorporating Fair Trade into the social and intellectual fabric of their campuses.”
“Catholic Relief Services congratulates the University of San Diego in its achievement of Fair Trade University status,” said Jackie DeCarlo, Manager, CRS Economic Justice Team. “We at CRS have been gratified to witness the deepening commitments USD has made to fair trade principles as a demonstration of its Catholic identity and engagement with CRS programming. By involving students, administrators and faculty in a series of awareness building and learning activities, as well as working steadfastly on procurement policies that focus on farmers, USD has distinguished itself both as a Catholic educational institution and important CRS ally.”
USD is the second California institution to become a Fair Trade campus, following the University of California, San Diego in 2010.
Last fall, USD also became one of only 15 institutions to be named an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, reflecting the university’s commitment to become a hub of social innovation through education, research and service.
— Liz Harman