New Abolitionist Movement Club launches #FairTradeFlyers

By: Christina Vaughan-Robinette – Senior, History

The University of Dayton’s New Abolitionist Movement Club held the #FairTradeFlyers Campaign Kickoff Event on Mar. 30 to introduce its Fair Trade University Campaign and the University Working Group for Fair and Ethical Sourcing to students, staff and faculty .

The goal of the Fair Trade University Campaign is to establish UD as a Fair Trade Certified Campus. The university is no stranger to fair trade products, as they can be found across campus, used by various departments or purchased in different campus venues, such as in the fair trade coffee offered in the Philosophy Department for faculty and staff. However, the certification would require at least two fair trade items to be offered for sale in every dining hall, convenience store and retail location.

Students would see a slight price increase when purchasing a fair trade product compared to other products. According to UNICEF USA, fair trade pays the producers in developing countries a fair and living wage, which is especially important in preventing human trafficking. “People who are impoverished are especially vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers,” according UNICEF USA.

“Financially, for example when comparing a fair trade chocolate bar and a Hershey’s bar, normally the fair trade is just a tiny bit more expensive. I think we are talking about 50 cents. So it won’t be that monumental of a cost increase to students,” said Rebecca Creed, senior mechanical engineering major and the longest serving undergraduate member of NAM. “With awareness events, we are hoping that students will be so well educated on the value of buying fair trade, it will offset any of the cost inconvenience associated with buying fair trade.”

UD is on its way to becoming a Fair Trade Certified Campus with two of the five required criteria for certification already met. These two steps are that “the Fair Trade committee provides leadership and direction for your campaign” and “sponsor[s] fair trade educational events and activities on campus and work with faculty to bring fair trade into the classroom.”

The remaining three steps are to “offer at least two fair trade products…in each outlet on campus,” “serve up fair trade coffee, tea and other products in offices, at events and through catering” and to create “a resolution that reflects the college/university’s commitment to fair trade and pass it through the appropriate decision-making bodies for approval.”

“One goal is to have the certification, which isn’t the final goal, but we think it is beneficial and a way to measure what we are doing,” NAM President Bradley Petrella said. “With the University Working Group, we would really like to start investigating all the products that the university buys and not just adding more items that are more ethical at the moment but trying to encourage the companies that we work with to improve their practices.”

Newly established by UD President Dan Curran, the University Working Group for Fair and Ethical Sourcing is co-chaired by UD Vice President of Finance Andrew Horner and NAM Advisor Tony Talbott, Ph.D., and political science professor.

“It’s time for us to start walking the talk of our Marianist values,” Horner said.

The March 30 event, held in Kennedy Union Ballroom, featured various speakers who discussed different aspects of fair trade, fair and ethical business practices and the role of globalization and cited their support for the #FairTradeFlyers Campaign and University Working Group. The speakers included Interim Provost Paul Benson and abolitionist and local business owner of Peace on Fifth, London Coe.

“NAM’s mission is to raise awareness for human trafficking through education,” Creed said.

NAM was established in 2010, and early members lobbied for the creation and implementation of state-level human trafficking legislation better known as the 2011 Ohio Senate Bill 235. Now, the club provides human trafficking 101 presentations at local middle and high schools and works with their affiliate club, The NAMlettes, at Kettering Fairmont High School. Throughout the year, NAM holds on-campus fair trade sales with items such as chocolates, flowers and Pulsera bracelets for purchase.

“Our final event this semester is April 8 from 6-11 p.m. at ArtStreet. We are having a dance with $1 dance lesson,” Creed said. “All of the proceeds will go to Survivor’s Ink, who changes tattoos of trafficking survivors by removing their handlers’ names. This event is in honor of Nate Sevier who graduated in May 2015, who was a member of our club that passed away in December.”

“The upcoming dance and #FairTradeFlyers Campaign Kickoff were our big events this semester to build awareness and to get the campaign going,” Petrella said. “Showing that you can support these causes and have a good time even though it’s a serious topic. I’m just trying to show people a more positive alterative that they could be supporting, preventing trafficking and leading to a change.”

For more information regarding UD’s progress at becoming a Fair Trade Certified University visit here.

Photo: The #FairTradeFlyers Campaign Kickoff offered opportunities for attendants to learn more about fair trade. Photo courtesy of Camila Robles.