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Fair Trade products urged

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, February 8, 2007

Notre Dame Amnesty International president Gary Nijak took the podium at the Senate meeting Wednesday to brief senators about progress made in the Fair Trade coffee campaign.

An Oct. 5 Observer article described Fair Trade pricing as a commitment to pay farmers $1.26 per pound of coffee beans, which should be enough to support a family. Fair Trade coffee allows farmers to sell beans directly to the roaster rather than go through millers, exporters and importers.

Senate passed a resolution in the fall calling for Fair Trade coffee to be exclusively offered in all non-franchised Food Services operations. This exclusivity has not been achieved.

The campaign needs a new marketing strategy, Nijak said Wednesday. They are aiming for a “new attempt at marketing a social justice program rather than what has been happening on campus,” he said.

Nijak has met with Dean Carolyn Woo of the Mendoza College of Business and other people in the business school to discuss different ways to market.

Amnesty International also discussed their marketing techniques with David Prentkowski, the director of Food Services. They talked about clearer labeling of the Fair Trade coffee available at the dining halls, posting information at the sites about what Fair Trade means and possibly advertising for related lectures on the LCD screens in the dining halls.

Nijak wants to branch the initiative beyond just coffee and try to introduce Fair Trade chocolate to campus.

“This isn’t something that is limited to coffee,” Nijak said. “This is a much larger idea.”

Amnesty International and other groups on campus have several events planned for later in the semester regarding the Fair Trade issue, including a showing of the movie “Black Gold” at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center and a lecture by theology professor Mary D’Angelo on Fair Trade and how it relates to teachings of the Catholic Social Tradition.

The majority of the meeting was spent discussing details regarding oversight in the student government – a topic that has been the subject of much debate in Senate and in the Council of Representatives over the past few weeks. The Senate first passed a resolution that allows the chairperson of the Senate to “waive committee assignment of any resolution, letter or order and hold immediate consideration of it before the Senate in extraordinary circumstances.”

This resolution allows all non-constitutional amendments to be passed through Senate more quickly should the need arise.

After this resolution was passed, Senate Oversight committee chair Chris Hollon brought up two more oversight issues for discussion. The senators debated transferring the account number for presidential programming from under the Student Union Board (SUB) to student government and also increasing the monetary limit an organization like SUB may spend before it must notice the Financial Management Board. Questions, discussions and debate continued for approximately 30 minutes until Lyons senator Mariana Montes said the senators should delay debating the issue until a resolution has been written.

In other Senate news:

Faculty senate representative Linda Sharp said the Faculty Senate discussed clarifying the honor code and developing definitive plans for crisis situations in classrooms at Notre Dame at their meeting this week.