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Poverty initiative starts here

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This is in response to the three-part series of Observer guest columns on global health and poverty (Oct. 23, 24, 25).

As Notre Dame students, we have the ability to do our part to fight global poverty. Earlier this year, the student senate passed a resolution requesting the exclusive use of Fair Trade coffee in on-campus venues. What this means is that in the future (with the support of the administration) Notre Dame will be contributing to the well-being of coffee farmers living in extreme poverty. The resolution passed through the Student Senate with ease, since the concept of aiding impoverished farmers is hardly a controversial one.

Despite Senate recognition, Notre Dame’s Fair Trade group (part of Amnesty International) still faces the problem of motivating the campus to act. Much of this stems from the fact that a majority of students in Notre Dame have no idea what fair trade is. Fair Trade is a movement that, among other things, promotes reasonable wages for workers.

The people who work all day growing the coffee that we drink live in such extreme poverty that they cannot afford to provide their families with basic needs like food, clothing, shelter and education that we take for granted. Fair Trade helps to alleviate these problems by paying these workers enough money to survive.

Notre Dame’s Fair Trade campaign kicked off last semester with the goal of selling Fair Trade coffee exclusively on campus. This move to sell Fair Trade exclusively has already been accomplished by other major universities and has the support of the Catholic Relief Services organization. As the most prominent of all Catholic universities, Notre Dame should make the moral decision to embrace this movement.

The first step was receiving the support of student government. What we need now is to educate the student body. The more the student body learns about and embraces Fair Trade coffee, the more leverage that student government and Amnesty have in convincing the administration to act.

To find out how you can help support this campaign email Amnesty International at [email protected] or contact either Chris Morrissey at [email protected], or Gary Nijak at [email protected]

William Sanchez


Knott Hall

Oct. 30