Student organizations to host Fair Trade Week

Courtney Wittekind Feb 8, 2010

Carnegie Mellon’s Fair Trade Week is a small part of an ongoing movement to encourage the purchase and use of fair trade products on campus and throughout Pittsburgh. The concept of fair trade centers on the promotion of sustainability for producers in under-developed and developing countries. Fair trade ensures that producers are paid adequate wages, while also encouraging the maintenance of environmental, social, and human rights-related standards.

“The fair trade initiative started last year with a group of students who were concerned with the variety of products available in on-campus dining,” said Amy Badiani, a junior social and decision sciences major and president of Carnegie Mellon’s Amnesty International chapter. “We started off learning about La Prima and their stance on fair trade. We were able to visit their factory and see how they made fair trade work locally. From there, we began to consider the possibility of fair trade products being available on campus.”

This exploration into fair trade products was successfully continued into this school year. “With the change in dining services, Amnesty and SIFE: Nicaragua came together to promote fair trade goods. It’s a really strong partnership because Amnesty International is a humanitarian organization, while SIFE: Nicaragua has the real-world experience of seeing how fair trade works internationally,” Badiani said.

“SIFE: Nicaragua has always tried to perpetuate sustainability among a more globally conscious campus community,” said SIFE: Nicaragua leader and junior social and decision sciences major Angel Gonzalez. “We knew that last year Amnesty [International] had done a lot of great work trying to promote fair trade on campus, so this year we approached them and said we wanted to work with them.”

Representatives from both Amnesty International and SIFE: Nicaragua have discussed issues of fair trade with Carnegie Mellon Housing and Dining Services, as well as various CulinArt vendors. SIFE: Nicaragua and Amnesty International expect fair trade products to be available at campus dining locations by the end of the semester.

Fair Trade Week will include a variety of events — beginning Tuesday at 5 p.m. in Danforth Lounge with “Speak your Mind,” an open discussion where students, staff, and faculty will share their beliefs and understanding of the benefits of fair trade production and fairly traded products. Sponsored by Student Affairs, “Speak Your Mind” will feature two guest speakers: professor and director of the global studies department John Soluri and La Prima Espresso owner Sam Patti. “I’m most excited about the ‘Speak Your Mind’ event,” Gonzalez said. “Basically we’re going to have a discussion about fair trade and about the feasibility of bringing it on campus. There will be a group of really passionate people there — we’re interested in having a discourse.”

Other events will include a tour of the La Prima factory in the Strip District this Saturday at 1 p.m.

Students will also have the opportunity to attend a Fair Trade Fair on Monday, Feb. 15, from 11:30–2:30 p.m. in Rangos 3. Many Pittsburgh fair trade companies will be represented, including 10,000 Villages, Building New Hope, La Prima Espresso, and Women of the Cloud Forest.
On Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. in Porter Hall 100 there will be a free coffee tasting. The tasting will be accompanied by the screening of Black Gold, a documentary focusing on the international production and trade of coffee.

Gonzalez explains that Amnesty International and SIFE: Nicaragua hope that fair trade week event will be “a chance to talk about different aspects of fair trade.”

“If you talk about [Fair Trade], then it becomes an issue. And when it becomes an issue, people want to see a change.”

“Fair trade’s importance goes back to the university’s mission statement, which talks about teaching ethical behavior and respect for others. As students of the university, we should contribute to that. One way to do that is making sure that the products we have on campus are ethical,” said Yon Zloof, a junior business administration major and member of SIFE: Nicaragua. “Fair trade benefits millions of families all around the world. It helps ensure that they get a fair share of what they are making and producing.”