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Manhattan College Receives Fair Trade College Status
For the last five years, Manhattan College has worked to expand fair trade to campus as part of the College’s commitment to social responsibility, and as a result, is the first college in New York City to receive Fair Trade College status. On Thursday, Feb. 16, a steering committee from Fair Trade Colleges and Universities in partnership with Fair Trade USA honored Manhattan College with a certificate of achievement at a gathering on campus.
As part of the event, Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D., president of Manhattan College, accepted the certificate on behalf of the College, and Gwendolyn A. Tedeschi, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics, made a few remarks on the importance of the College’s longstanding mission to social justice through promoting fair trade all over campus and the local community.
“Campus ministry and social action, along with the student group JustPeace have been raising awareness about fair trade since 2007,” Tedeschi said. “But this year, working with a great and diverse group of people across campus, including Gourmet Dining and the eFollett Bookstore, we’ve brought our fair trade campaign to a new level.”
The Manhattan College community is dedicated to globally reducing poverty and building sustainable businesses by carrying fair trade products within all campus dining halls, restaurants, cafes and the bookstore. The majority of fair trade-certified products in the United States are monitored by Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization that manages transactions between U.S. companies and international suppliers. Through a regimented process, Fair Trade USA ensures farmers and workers receive fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, and provide tools, training and resources to help a community thrive.
“Fair trade practices respect human dignity and are committed to social justice, important elements of our mission,” said Lois Harr, director of campus ministry and social action and adjunct instructor of religious studies. “As a Fair Trade College, we can put our values into action everyday in clear and concrete ways.”
In order to educate students and employees further on the importance of fair trade, the College has also made a conscientious effort to schedule lectures, guest speakers, film screenings and tastings of fair trade products throughout campus. For example, the College’s campus ministry and social action department hosted two presentations on fair trade coffee farming in El Salvador and Mexico. In addition, professors have also added the subject of fair trade in the classroom and led discussions on fair trade within international studies, sociology, economics and M.B.A. courses. In particular, one student conducted a research project on marketing fair trade products at the College, and three M.B.A. students won second place in a national competition for a case study on Equal Exchange: Trading Fairly and Making a Profit.
Along with making students aware of fair trade, the College hosted a faculty development session on the topic in October. As a whole, the College has conveyed the message of fair trade through several channels, such as the student-run newspaper, the alumni e-newsletter and social media channels.
“Catholic Relief Services (CRS) congratulates Manhattan College in its achievement of Fair Trade College status, and we at CRS have been gratified to witness the deepening commitments the College has made to fair trade principles as a demonstration of Lasallian tradition and engagement with CRS programming,” said Jackie DeCarlo, manager of CRS domestic programs. “By involving students, administrators and faculty in a series of awareness-building and learning activities, as well as working steadfastly on procurement policies that focus on farmers, the College has distinguished itself both as a Catholic educational institution and important CRS ally.”