Rev. Robert L. Niehoff, S.J., president of John Carroll University, today signed a resolution to declare John Carroll a Fair Trade University, reflecting a decision that he and the vice presidents of the University made this fall. By signing the resolution, Rev. Niehoff completed the last of four steps required for JCU to earn “Fair Trade University” status from Fair Trade Campaigns, a national grassroots organization that seeks to “grow a nationwide community of passionate lifelong Fair Trade advocates who seek equity in trade…for economically and socially marginalized producers.” John Carroll is the fifth Jesuit school to earn this status, joining Creighton University, Loyola Marymount University, Saint Joseph’s University, and Seattle University. The campaign to earn Fair Trade University status began more than two years ago under the leadership of JCU students Grace Donnelly ’16 and McKenzae Bartels ’14, with the help of their advisor Peggy Finucane, Ph.D., associate professor of communication and theatre arts and previous director of the Center for Service and Social Action. They were joined by fellow students Paul Gehrig ’17, Dominic Gideon ’18, Catherine Looby ’17, Taylor Morehouse ’16, Kaylee Quanbeck ’17, Courtney Radtkin ’15, Andrew Schettler ’17, and Jackie Sosnowski ’16. Together, they worked under the auspices of the JCU Students for Social Justice
organization as its Fair Trade committee. Over the next two years, in order to earn Fair Trade status for the University, they were required to (1) reach out to campus outlets, (2) source Fair Trade products at campus events and meetings, (3) commit to Fair Trade education, and (4) draft, revise, and pass a Fair Trade resolution. After successfully completing the first three steps and making Fair Trade products and education available at specific venues and events on campus, the group drafted a resolution for the University leadership to consider. The students reviewed the draft with Vice President for University Mission and Identity Edward Peck, Ph.D. According to Peck, the drafting and revision process afforded the University and some of its major vendors, Aramark and Follett, the opportunity “to have informative and constructive conversations about existing and future Fair Trade efforts in light of the University’s Jesuit Catholic commitment to social justice.” As a result of these conversations, for example, Starbucks Fair Trade blend was made widely available on campus, and the University Bookstore has reintroduced and prominently displayed its Fair Trade vendor line of clothing by Alta Gracia. The resolution situates the commitment to Fair Trade squarely in line with John Carroll’s Vision, Mission, and Core Values statements and cites relevant writings on social justice by popes, bishops, and the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, the Very Rev. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. The resolution encourages the University community to be more intentional about its purchasing and consumption, opting wherever possible to choose sustainable, Fair Trade products. It also requires ongoing education by the student Fair Trade committee, annual progress reporting during the University’s Ignatian Heritage Week, and the continued development of socially responsible purchasing policies and practices. “As a Jesuit University committed to human dignity, environmental sustainability, and economic justice for all, the decision to become a Fair Trade University is a natural expression of our mission,” said Rev. Niehoff. “I am proud of our students and congratulate Grace, McKenzae, and their colleagues for their persistent dedication to this important work. These students have already been educating campus about what this commitment means for us and how it will impact others. What was begun as advocacy developed into educational engagement, and this is an important step for our learning community.” In an effort to demonstrate campus-wide interest in the resolution, the Fair Trade Committee also sought the endorsement of the Student Union and the faculty. After serious consideration and debate, the Student Union endorsed the resolution unanimously during its Dec. 9 meeting, and the faculty also voted to endorse it by an overwhelming majority on Dec. 19. To learn more about John Carroll’s commitment to Fair Trade, join us for the first update on Fair Trade initiatives on Thursday, Jan. 29, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the D.J. Lombardo Student Center Conference Room during the Community Meeting on Environmental Sustainability, part of Ignatian Heritage Week 2015.