Keene State College’s Fair Trade Club has started a petition calling upon President Anne E. Huot to recognize and acknowledge KSC as a Fair Trade college. With many sustainable strides taken so far, members of the The Equinox wonder why this simple step has yet to be taken.
Keene State has placed a great emphasis on sustainability with its efforts toward building and incorporating eco-friendly, sustainable structures and practices into place. The college prides itself off of its use of biofuel to heat buildings on campus, the TDS center using solar panels and the new Living and Learning Commons building. The college has the opportunity to embrace and carry out one more environmentally-friendly initiative, but has yet to take action.
KSC started selling Green Mountain Coffee back in 2008, making it the first Fair Trade product to be sold on campus. The Fair Trade Club began on campus back in 2011. Since then, many more members have joined and all sorts of Fair Trade products can be found on campus. To carry out a Fair Trade campaign and have a college/university be officially recognized as a Fair Trade school, there are steps that need to be completed. In short, these steps include building a team, reaching out to campus outlets, sourcing Fair Trade at events and meetings, committing to Fair Trade education and finally passing Fair Trade resolution. The Fair Trade Club here on campus has done all but the last of those steps, and we need Huot’s help in order to move forward in becoming officially recognized as being a Fair Trade certified college.
For years, the Fair Trade Club has worked toward accomplishing this and is quite close to reaching their goal. The core values of Fair Trade campaigns also align with what Keene State is all about, so it’s rather peculiar that President Huot hasn’t jumped at this opportunity. We at The Equinox would like to see President Huot take action and help our school be officially recognized as a Fair Trade certified college, especially since the school is already following along with what it takes to be one in the first place.
Fair Trade goes much further than just paying farmers and food production workers a fair wage for the products and services they supply. At the core of Fair Trade’s values are empowerment, integrity, sustainability, innovation, excellence, personal development, community, fairness and impact. All of this is something KSC encourages. According to fairtradeusa.org, “Through direct, equitable trade, farming and working families are able to eat better, keep their kids in school, improve health and housing, and invest in the future.” Through Fair Trade, local communities are strengthened, organic agriculture is encouraged for the health of the farmers, consumers and planet and those involved are compensated fairly.
In some instances, farmers are neglected and taken advantage of, receiving bare minimums for the products they plant, tend, harvest and supply. Much of our food comes from poverty-stricken parts of the world, so to further take advantage of these workers only perpetuates the impoverished cycle they find themselves living within. This exploitation isn’t a factor when purchasing a Fair Trade certified product. According to theethicalsilkco.com, “When commercial buyers pay fair premiums, these farmers no longer live in extreme poverty. Instead, they earn sufficiently to provide and protect their families, as well as strengthen their overall communities through finances, adequate nutrition and education.” Fair Trade also stands against child labor, which is crucial, as many children in parts of the world are tending fields for little or no pay. According to theethicalsilkco.com, “Fair Trade requires compliance with domestic and international labor laws, which include the prohibition of child and forced labor, as well as child trafficking.”
Fair Trade seeks for better equity all around, for the one planting the seed, to the one purchasing that produce and all those in-between with a more sustainable and transparent model for international trade. We at The Equinox admire all that Fair Trade is about and encourages and would like to see Keene State College sign off and become officially certified as a Fair Trade college.
*Correction made 2/20/17: Paragraph 7 – changed “e-” to “about and encourages and would like to see Keene State College”*