Volume 93, Issue 82

Tuesday, March 7, 2000


OPINIONS

Contrioversial or just inappropriate?

Give up beer, we dare you

Too little, too late from Western

Who wants to learn?

Libs trip up Alliance

What's the difference?

Too little, too late from Western



To the Editor:

I am just writing to say that as a student at Western, I am disappointed in the lack of initiative and moral fibre displayed by both the Board of Governors and the University Students' Council in trying to eliminate the possibility that Western clothing could be the product of sweatshop labour.

I am familiar with the on-campus group Students Against Sweatshops – the bitter struggle they have had trying to get Western to stand up for simple human rights disgraces our school.

It seems the Board attempted to delay or avoid taking action entirely, proposing instead to wait and see how the University of Toronto will handle the same issue.

This is pretty sad – on an issue concerning social justice and equality, Western will be reduced to a pathetic follower role. It would seem that on this issue, our school simply does not have the courage to take a stand on it's own.

Just recently, the USC has taken steps to work with Students Against Sweatshops.

After delaying their decision for several months, the USC announced their desire to sign a commitment against sweatshop labour. A small but important step, this is to be commended.

From a students' council who declined involvement in the Canadian strike on Feb. 2, action on this issue came as a pleasant surprise.

I hope they will continue forward with this momentum, as I feel students at Western would have a great deal more respect for their student government after seeing it take such an enlightened stance on the issue.

VP-campus issues Perry Monaco said "While we agree in principle with their proposals, we are currently working to develop a code that is not transparent and will be enforceable." However, he suggested putting such a code together would take time.

I agree that it is worth the extra time to build a code for Western's clothing suppliers which would ensure the just treatment of their workers. I just hope the USC will not imitate BOG, which seemed to drag its heels, hoping these concerned students will go away.

I know from discussions I've had with many of my fellow students that this is an issue which concerns them deeply.

However, those of us who care how Western clothing is produced have seen little in the way of a response from administration, or until recently, our students' council.

I would sincerely hate to think that right now, somewhere in the world (and it could very well be in Canada – we have sweatshops, too), there was some unfortunate, overworked and underpaid worker frantically making clothes for the students of Western to wear.

If Western is guilty of using sweatshop labour, then what must the people sewing our clothing think as they are beaten, threatened, sexually and racially harassed and paid a mere pittance for their hard work?

I think they would look down at that purple "W" and hate it.

James Ede
Political Science and Sociology II
Co-president, Oxfam Student's Association



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Copyright The Gazette 2000