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Fair-trade in line with mission statement

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, September 4, 2008

If we do away with fair trade coffee for the sake of cost efficiency, let’s just get rid of locally grown veggies too and the organic chocolate from the Huddle that donates a portion of its profits to wildlife.

Forcing students to pay for the difference in fair trade coffee versus free trade coffee is such a minute and minimal aspect of the required meal plan. The meal plan requirement is the real issue in question.

Realizing that Dan Kamp (“Stop wasting my money,” Sept. 4) is not arguing for or against fair trade coffee, I’m not writing to argue about ethics. Simply, fair trade coffee is not the only item in the meal plan that isn’t the most cost effective alternative. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason beyond cost that Notre Dame promotes fair trade items or locally grown products.

Supporting human rights and human endeavor – yeah, that’s all part of Catholic social teaching. Living in accordance with Catholic social teaching is not confined to involvement in the Center for Social Concerns. We don’t recycle because we like to spend more money on numerous types of waste receptacles. We recycle because being a steward of the Earth is also part of Catholic social teaching.

The University does not spend money frivolously on “their own ethical qualms.” Please. These “ethical qualms” are not merely their own. By the simple fact that you attend Notre Dame, you are subject to Catholic ethics in all areas of life – from theology course requirements to traditions like opening mass at the beginning of the school year. Why should the standards for food be any different?

The University is not here to “[hold] others hostage to [its] own set of values.” The last time I checked, the Notre Dame mission statement says, “What the University asks of all its scholars and students, however, is not a particular creedal affiliation, but a respect for the objectives of Notre Dame …”

Granted, the meal plan is expensive, but the requirement itself is the real issue – not the promotion of Catholic social teaching over cost-effective, economic consumerism.

Kelsey Falter


Pangborn Hall

Sept. 4