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Campaigns---> Clothes for a Change---> Take Action---> Campus Activism


CAMPUS ACTIVISM

Fair made and organic cotton clothing provides a sustainable alternative to the conventional collegiate apparel industry. Bringing fair made organic cotton clothing to our campuses is an important step towards replacing environmentally and socially exploitive products with sustainable products. It is a feasible goal that can be incorporated into ongoing campaigns, used to recruit new student activists, and to network labor, environmental, social justice, agricultural and other campus organizations. It's also a great opportunity to gain support for these issues from other students, faculty and staff. Fair made organic cotton clothing is environmentally sustainable, socially just, and most times, independently monitored - all of which are essential components of a democratic global economy.

HOW TO START A CAMPAIGN

  1. Investigate where the collegiate clothing in your bookstore comes from. Survey who supplies your campus. Figure out whom on you campus makes the collegiate apparel purchasing decisions. Often times there is a Clothing Manager who is under contract with a larger company. Independent bookstores are usually run by their own managers and have more leeway in making purchasing decisions.
  2. Investigate how student groups purchase their event t-shirts. Find out who supplies your campus with student event t-shirts. Figure out whom on your campus makes the event t-shirt purchasing decisions. Often times a student group will be organized and funded by the Associated Students (or similar body)., Independent student groups not bound by campus policies may have more leeway in purchasing decisions.
  3. Start mobilizing a coalition Local activist groups can incorporate this campaign into existing work, or you may need to start you own coalition. Environmental and anti-sweatshop groups will play a significant role. The OCA will provide, leaflets, educational materials and s advice if needed..
  4. Educate your community to gather consumer support and awareness.
    * Table in your student union and give out education materials, get people to sign petitions and send letters to the appropriate decision makers.
    * Ask other groups if you can table at their events.
    * Ask student groups if you can come and talk to them about purchasing organic fair made cotton t-shirts for their next event.
    * Invite a speaker to come and educate your campus community and be a guest on your college radio station.
    * Hold a movie night and show a video.
    * Get an article about the Campus Campaign published in your local and campus papers.
    * Get professors to let you talk about organic fair made clothing in relevant classes.
  5. Define your campaign goals for the collegiate apparel market.
    1. If your campus-clothing supplier already offers a line of organic fair made collegiate clothes, all you have to do is get them to offer it to your campus.
    2. If your supplier does not carry such a line, you should pressure them to start offering a line of organic fair made collegiate clothes. It they won't, then ask your school to switch a company that does.
    3. Your group will also have to decide: do you want to get the school to offer ONE line of organic fair made collegiate clothes as an option for students, or do you want a comprehensive purchasing restriction, so that ALL collegiate apparel in your bookstore has to be fair made and organic? This will depend on the political climate of your school and the strength of your coalition. Many schools won't mind adding an additional product but shy away from replacing existing contracts. Once you get your administration to bring in one offering, it may be harder to build up momentum later to pass a purchasing restriction. Set your demands high so that you have room to negotiate.
  6. Define your campaign goals for student event t-shirts.
    1. If your local screen printer already offers organic fair made cotton t-shirts, all you have to do is get them to offer these shirts to your campus clubs.
    2. If your screen printer does not carry such a line, you may want to pressure them to start offering a line of organic fair made cotton t-shirts. It they won't, then you should find a screen printer that does.
    3. Your group will also have to decide: do you want to get the school to support organic fair made cotton event t-shirts as an option for students, or do you want a comprehensive purchasing restriction, such that ALL student event t-shirts purchased with student fees have to be fair made and organic? This will also depend on the political climate of your school and the strength of your coalition. Many schools won't mind supporting the cause, but may shy away from placing a purchasing restriction upon the use of student fees. Set your demands high so that you have room to negotiate.
  7. Meet with your management, student council, and elected officers. Bring in a written letter that addresses your concerns, what you're asking as well as background materials about the Campus Campaign, a researched list of companies that offer organic fair made cotton clothes, news clippings about organic cotton, hundreds of petition signatures, and stories about the impact of sweatshop labor and conventional cotton faming. Take their considerations seriously; they will want to know about costs; availability and design limitations; how the monitoring works. They will want to be sure it doesn't create new paperwork for them. Try to get them to see how important it is for environmental and social justice reasons, and they'll be more likely to take you seriously. Let them know that you will help them promote and build demand for the clothing when they make the switch.
  8. Organize creative actions with your coalition, coordinate your efforts with the OCA's Clothes for a Change campaign, and try to get media coverage of your campaign.. Participate actively in the OCA's Clothes for a Change campaign on your campus. Let your campus community know that you are serious about bringing organic fair made cotton clothes to your campus. Set up a website and use mass media to educate people about your campaign. Let your school administration and student government officers know you are holding them accountable. Use your allies- who in Student Government or procurement offices might support you? Find out if you can do a ballot initiative or a binding legislative bill rather that a nonbonding resolution? Use peer pressure- they can't say it's impossible if other schools are already doing it. We can supply you with a list of colleges that currently offer organic, fair made cotton clothes. And remember, call us if you need any assistance or ideas- we're here to support your campaign!

Contact OCA at 218-226-4164 for more info
or to tell us about your efforts!

All information provided by the Sustainable Cotton Project
http://www.sustainablecotton.org

 
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