UW-Stevens Point Knows How to Play Fair Trade
Photo courtesy of VendingMarketWatch.com.

UW-Stevens Point Knows How to Play Fair Trade

Last week, the Office of Sustainability finished the last act to designate the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point as a fair trade university.

The definition of fair trade, according to the World Fair Trade Organization, is a product partnership that is beneficial to the trade itself, workers involved and the environment.

In partnership with the Student Government Association and Students for Sustainability, the actions to qualify for a designated fair trade campus were completed last week. The award was through Fair Trade Campaigns.

To qualify for designation, a campus must provide at least two fair trade options at every vending location, host at least two educational events a semester and have offices support fair trade items.

All requirements were filled last week when chancellor Patterson started serving fair trade coffee in his office.

Justin Seis, projects coordinator at the Office of Sustainability, said the process to becoming fair trade began years ago with a survey through Students for Sustainability. Together, along with other clubs, they put in the effort to make sure enough items were sold at vendors and educational programs were in place.

Robert Abrahamian, senior water resources major and environmental and sustainability director for the Student Government Association, said, “The biggest thing was connecting with the vendors to make sure they could offer some of these products.”

The university bookstore is now selling fair trade cotton shirts, chocolate and accessories. The CPS Café uses fair trade ingredients and sells fair trade coffee and tea.

Dining services and the Brewhaus are also supplying at least the minimum requirement of two fair trade items. Different faculty and student groups are additionally involved, both in curriculum and in activities.

“It’s showing that they are advocates for ethical treatment of workers in a sustainable fashion that also creates great products,” said Alex Thomas, senior waste management and biology major and caucus chair for the College of Natural Resources.

The legislation was passed through student government to maintain the fair trade standard. The legislation was written by Seis, Thomas, and Shaun Piette, senior natural resource planner and treasurer for Students for Sustainability.

“Being designated is a large step but a first step, in that it’ll become more institutionalized once we have the designation,” Thomas said.

The three offices that utilize fair trade items are the Office of Sustainability, Student Government Alliance and the chancellor’s office.

The chancellor was enthusiastic with the idea of a fair trade campus.

“We sent him an email and he was on board right away,” Seis said.

Seis spoke with the head of University Involvement in the Fair Trade Campaign on Friday after chancellor Patterson’s final step. This finalized the designation and allowed the campus to receive its certificate of recognition.

The fair trade committee in charge of keeping the designation for years to come involves the projects coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, the environmental and sustainability affairs director of the Student Government Association and some representatives of Students for Sustainability.

UW-Oshkosh was the first declared fair trade university in the state and the country, and UW-Stevens Point is the second university in the state and 39th university in the country to be awarded this designation.

Alexa Dickson
News Editor

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