TORCH PHOTO/ANGELICA ACEVEDO
In the spring semester of 2014, the St. John’s for Fair Trade Committee was founded and has maintained efforts to make St. John’s University a Fair Trade-designated University by working with Fair Trade Campaigns, a non-profit organization.
Fair Trade is defined as trade which gives fair prices to manufacturers in developing countries to ensure that marginalized farmers and workers around the world receive better treatment and a more stable income.
Co-Chairman Prof. Sean Murray spoke about the committee’s efforts in an interview with the Torch.
“The committee’s main goal right now is to achieve official Fair Trade designation from Fair Trade Campaigns. To date, we’ve completed three of the five objectives set by Fair Trade Campaigns: we formed our committee which holds monthly meetings, a number of SJU offices and events provide Fair Trade coffee and Fair Trade has been integrated into a number of courses and learning opportunities,” Murray said.
Murray also elaborated on the organization’s plans for the future.
“We have two objectives still to complete: Ensure that each campus vendor provides at least two Fair Trade items, and have the SJU administration endorse a non-binding resolution to continue raising awareness about Fair Trade. SJU is very close to completing the vendor objective … With regards to the resolution, our hope is to begin talks with administration this semester,” Murray added.
Murray also stated that he believes students play the most important role when it comes to making St. John’s a Fair Trade-designated University, and listed a few actions students can take.
“Talk to campus vendors about increasing the number of fair trade products, support ‘Fair Trade Friday’ sales, raise Fair Trade issues in class discussions, reach out to administration and express interest and visit Campus Ministries and ask about becoming active in Catholic Relief Services,” Murray said.
Katharina Lemmerz, the student co-chair, recalled the University’s mission statement as a Vincentian institution.
“Fair Trade represents social justice and a commitment to sustainability which I think is really important in a world where the consumer has a large influence on products that are in demand,” Lemmerz said.
She continued, “I think as a Vincentian University our missions align perfectly and by becoming a Fair Trade Recognized University we would open ourselves up to more opportunities to raise awareness and make an impact on campus by promoting Fair Trade and all its parts.”