Say no to sweatshops

Officially licensed Queen’s clothing is a popular commodity around campus. Sadly, the University is not doing all it can to ensure that none of its officially licensed clothing is made in illegal sweatshops. Although the University’s current policy requires licensees to provide the University with a list of their suppliers and manufacturers, the University doesn’t currently have the resources to monitor the working conditions of the organizations identified by the licensees.

In other words, there are no existing safeguards that can guarantee that officially licensed Queen’s clothing is not produced in illegal sweatshops.

No Sweat is a non-governmental organization committed to eradicating illegal sweatshops and promoting safe working conditions around the world. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has officially endorsed No Sweat polices, as have the University of Alberta, Dalhousie, Guelph, Laurentian, McMaster, Memorial, Montreal, Toronto, Waterloo and Western Ontario.

Queen’s has not yet committed itself to No Sweat, but has been working toward that goal for at least a year. Why the process is taking so long is a mystery. More importantly, that such measures were not taken years ago is a travesty.

Queen’s should only grant clothing licenses to suppliers that fully disclose how their products are made and that meet Canadian labour laws. Any business that fails to do so should be immediately removed from the list of corporations with which Queen’s does business.

Queen’s boasts it is “preparing leaders and citizens for a global society.” It is time the University puts its money where its mouth is. Until it does, it may be up to the students to put pressure on the University to make these imperative changes. After all, it was almost exclusively because of student activism that the Common Ground decided a few years ago to serve only fair trade coffee. Students should be proud of that achievement, but should also not be complacent—their work is not yet done.

The price of apathy is too costly.

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