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Fair trade coffee education underway

Letter to the Editor | Monday, January 22, 2007

Drew Clary’s Letter to the Editor (“Resolution ineffective,” Jan. 18) about the recently passed Student Senate Fair Trade Coffee Resolution is both incorrect and misinformed. He writes that the educational drive to spread the fair trade message has ceased and is ineffective. He references the lack of dorm visits as a failure “to get the word out among students.” As one of the students leading this education campaign, I find this accusation grossly unfounded and inappropriate.

The fair trade coffee campaign, a subgroup of Amnesty International, has undertaken a massive movement to educate the student body on the moral decision the University must make to endorse coffee that ensures sustainable wages for its producers. When it comes to visiting dormitories, specifically hall councils, to directly educate the residents, it is not for lack of desire or effort that this has not occurred. After the Student Senate passed the resolution, I myself went to Hall President’s Council to give a similar presentation with fellow group members and to request permission to travel to the dormitories. This request was denied due to long standing HPC procedures, but it began our residence hall poster campaign.

Now, our ability to directly discuss this issue with students in individual dormitories is dependent upon Student Senate, of which Clary is a member. I encourage him to take notice of the increasing presence and strength of our education campaign around campus this semester. I personally invite him to a screening of Black Gold, a documentary that highlights the plight of small-scale coffee farmers under an exploitive trade system. This movie will be shown in the Browning Cinema at DPAC, March 23. If Clary is still not convinced of our dedication to educate the student body, he is welcome to attend one of our meetings (Mondays, 8 p.m., CSC Coffee House) to witness for himself our plans for the semester. We will continue to write letters to The Observer and have established an open dialogue with Mendoza College of Business Dean Carolyn Woo and Michael Sheridan, director of Catholic Relief Services Fair Trade Coffee Campaign. As a Catholic university with a long-standing tradition of moral and social consciousness, it is our obligation to ensure that the coffee served on campus reinforces a fair and positive relationship between growers, buyers and consumers.

Catherine McKinney

sophomore

Lewis Hall

Jan. 21