BY ISN STAFF | December 23, 2014
UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, OH – John Carroll University became the fifth Jesuit university to earn “Fair Trade University” status from Fair Trade Campaigns. John Carroll joins Creighton University, Loyola Marymount University, Saint Joseph’s University, and Seattle University, and is also the first university in Ohio to earn the status. Fair Trade Campaigns is a grassroots movement mobilizing thousands of conscious consumers and Fair Trade advocates on campuses and communities across the USA.
Rev. Robert L. Niehoff, S.J., president of John Carroll University signed a resolution on December 17, 2014, to declare John Carroll a Fair Trade University, surrounded by members of the campus student organization JCU Students for Social Justice, who organized the campaign. Prior to Niehoff’s official signing John Carroll’s student government and faculty senate overwhelmingly supported resolutions in support of the campus effort.
“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 Fr. Niehoff. “I am proud of our students and congratulate [the students] 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.”According to Edward Peck, Ph.D., John Carroll’s vice president for mission and identity, the drafting and revision process afforded the University and some of its major vendors, Aramark (food service) and Follett (bookstore), 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 union-made living-wage vendor line of clothing by Alta Gracia.
On the announcement Fair Trade Colleges and Universities campaign coordinator Parker Townley noted John Carroll’s lengthy commitment to fair trade, saying “for a number of years the university has led the charge for socially just and sustainable trade through a variety efforts to educate about Fair Trade.” Serving as the venue for a statewide fair trade conference, known as the Ohio Fair Trade Expo, four times since 2009 John Carroll has been a central gathering space for fair trade organizing across the state. Catholic Relief Services began supporting John Carroll’s fair trade efforts in 2007 via their Fair Trade Fund grant program. Organized through the University’s campus ministry office, grants totaling $7,500 supported undergraduate student interns’ efforts to offer campus education on fair trade and increase the presence of fair trade products on campus.