UC San Diego Adopts Strongest Fair Trade Policy in the United States

Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Contact: Rishi Ghosh, rghosh@ucsd.edu 858-531-5238
Student Sustainability Collective, UC San Diego studentsustainability.ucsd.edu

(La Jolla). After a five year campaign, UC San Diego has signed the strongest Fair Trade Policy of any University in the nation. The UC San Diego policy makes a “commitment to promote Fair Trade Certified TM Products… support livable wages, humane working conditions, and guarantees against the use of child labor.” In cooperation with TransFair USA and the national Fair Trade Universities Working Group, UC San Diego is pursuing the status of a “Fair Trade University.”

The signing of the policy, which had been in the works for over five years, represents a huge step in the US Fair Trade movement. All future food and vendor contracts at UC San Diego are mandated to require 100% Fair Trade Coffee, Fair Trade Tea and Fair Trade Sugar at all locations on campus.

“This is more than simply a victory for the university or for the students, who have worked hard on this policy over the past five years, this is a victory for the farmers who have been working for trade justice for generations,” said Yuki Murakami, Co-President of the UC San Diego Chapter of Amnesty International.

The UC San Diego policy follows the commitment made by the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh in 2008, which became the first Fair Trade University in the US by adopting the British Fair Trade University campaign standards.

“At UC San Diego, the turning point came when Chancellor Mary Anne Fox and the Director of Housing and Dining Services, Mark Cunningham, both expressed their support for our campaign” said UC San Diego Student Sustainability Collective (SSC) Co-Founder, Chris Westling.

The UC San Diego student government President, Wafa Ben Hassine, echoed the commitment today, stating “I will work through all necessary avenues to ensure that this policy is upheld. That said, I am more than confident that this will bring a new sense of social and environmental responsibility among students and faculty alike.”

The Fair Trade campaign was originally conceived by student organization One Earth One Justice, which worked over the years to successfully advocate that individual vendors on campus phase out non-fair trade products.

“We express special thanks for the strong commitment shown by University Centers, the UCSD Bookstore and Housing and Dining Departments on campus. Without their strong support, and the students’ persistence, this would not have been possible” remarked Elizabeth Elman, Director of Public Health, of the SSC.

“This is one great step forward to making all UC San Diego food systems sustainable,” Jared Muscat, SSC Director of Food Policy, noted after completing discussion with the UCSD food systems directors that call for 25% real food on the UCSD campus by 2016 and 30% by 2021. He added, “Fair Trade is an important part in the category of food sustainability and to have this policy makes the numbers our university strive for not only look realistic, but possible to push further.”

The Student Sustainability Collective was founded in Spring 2009 as a student-controlled component of the newly opened UC San Diego Sustainability Resource Center. Through an understanding that environmental sustainability and social equality are deeply connected, the SSC hopes to expand the understanding of sustainability both on and off-campus.

The SSC intends to advocate for expanding the Fair Trade University campaign UC-wide and then nationally. “We’re at a tremendous crossroads here. People across the country are starting to demand that producers be afforded the same basic rights as consumers,” said Westling.

The policy is available online at http://adminrecords.ucsd.edu/ppm/docs/541-2.pdf

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