Organic Consumers Association

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UWO First in U.S. to Become a Fair Trade University

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is the first university in the U.S. to become a Fair Trade University by making a commitment to do its part toward ending trade injustices that result in millions of people living in poverty.

Fair trade products have been produced providing artisans and farmers with a living wage for their work and humane working conditions, while also protecting the environment. About 70 universities in Europe have Fair Trade University status, including the University of Birmingham and the University of Edinburgh, but UW Oshkosh is the first American university to do so.

To become a Fair Trade University, UW Oshkosh's four governing bodies endorsed a resolution outlining its commitment to: selling Fair Trade Certified coffee, tea and chocolate in dining establishments, at catered functions and in department offices whenever feasible and within the confines of its food service contract; offering Fair Trade Certified food products and handicrafts at University stores whenever possible; and identifying and acknowledging Fair Trade Certified products and encouraging their purchase by students, faculty and staff. The Fair Trade program will be overseen by the newly formed Campus Sustainability Council.

"Sustainability goes well beyond being 'green'," said Chancellor Richard H. Wells. "It includes social justice as well. By becoming a Fair Trade University, UW Oshkosh is making a commitment to do our part toward helping workers around the world get a livable wage and humane working conditions. As a large institution, UW Oshkosh can play an important part in shaping the future and in supporting green practices on all levels."

Becoming a Fair Trade University is not the first step UW Oshkosh has taken toward becoming more sustainable. The University is a member of the Fair Labor Association, and only works with vendors who have been inspected by the organization and certified as not subjecting employees to sweatshop conditions. "Becoming a Fair Trade University is a natural next step for us," said Petra Roter, vice chancellor for student affairs. "This is part of who we are and demonstrates what we believe."

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