Task force will act as a catalyst in raising awareness
By MYRA McGRIFF
On Aug. 31, Saint Mary's finished a final draft of their sweatshop policy. With help from students, faculty, administration and Worker Rights Consortion (WRC), the policy proposed many ways to stop the mistreatment of workers around the world.
One way the policy hoped to ensure the protection of workers comes through a monitoring system. The different purchasing departments of Saint Mary's will require information from their vendors on how factories are run.
"I have asked for vendors code of conduct," said Sandy VenderWerven, manager of Saint Mary's bookstore, and member of the anti-sweatshop committee. "I think they are taking it seriously. Some vendors have provided list of their factories. Jansport and Gear (vendors) have come out with global mission statements."
But some wonder if a vendor's written code of conduct represents the actual working factory.
"Whether they enforce those written codes is where the WRC comes in," said VenderWerven.
The WRC, a non-profit organization, will serve as the eyes and ears for their college and university members. They will form groups to go out to vendor's listed factories and report their findings to the involved colleges and universities. But it is up to each individual college to decide what to do with the information. Saint Mary's, as outlined in the sweatshop policy, will assign a task force to handle all WRC findings.
"The task force is a committee of students, faculty, and staff that will be Saint Mary's contact to the WRC," said Maureen Capillo, Saint Mary's student and member of task force. "We will make recommendations to the Board of Trustees on how to proceed with that information."
Not only does the sweatshop policy outline a monitoring system to stop the exploitation of workers, the policy also set goals to enlighten students and other faculty members. The task force committee hopes to act a catalyst in raising awareness on campus.
"The task force is to keep the issue alive and promote a strong educational component," said Karen Ristau, dean of faculty.
With the help from the faculty members on the task force committee, sweatshop specific material can be made available to interested faculty and students.
"One thing the faculty will do is bring speakers to campus and setup curriculum for professors that incorporates sweatshop issues," said Capillo.
The next meeting for the task force will be in early October. By the end of meeting they hope to have a draft of their year goals and all they hope to accomplish.
"It's coming along," said VenderWerven, "and the goal is to get this up and running as quick as possible."
All News Stories for Wednesday, September 20, 2000