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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Free Trade coffee remains, despite student referendum

Published: April 7, 2006
Section: News

Despite a Student Union referendum passed in December which stated that the Brandeis student body is in favor of the exclusive sale of Fair Trade coffee on campus, dining services continues to sell non-Fair Trade coffee at Java City and on the kosher side of Sherman dining hall.

The referendum passed by a vote of 620-259 with 43 abstentions. At the time of the referendum, Aramark officials reported that they would comply with the student bodys wishes, according to reports in The Hoot and the Justice.

The main group behind the amendment was Brandeis Fair Trade Brigade, whose goal is to educate the campus about Fair Trade-certified products and get more of them sold on campus, according to the clubs description on myBrandeis. Daniel Mauer 06 of the Fair Trade Brigade said, The student body has spoken loudly and clearly in favor of Fair Trade coffee all across campus, and it is disappointing that the administration hasn't yet followed through on achieving that goal. He added that the idea that Brandeis, a school based very literally on founding principles of social justice, is too timid to follow suit is confusing and surprising.

According to Student Union representatives, Vice President for Campus Operations Mark Collins met with the Unions Campus Operations Working Group (COWG) last week, but Fair Trade coffee was not discussed. COWG is responsible for relaying student concerns about facilities and infrastructure, according to the Unions website. Collins could not be reached for comment.

Mauer noted that there has been a level of success and that we were really excited that they were willing to make the switch almost immediately in Usdan and in the non-kosher section of Sherman. He added, They are receptive to the idea of switching the kosher section of Sherman as well, but had been unaware of any kosher Fair Trade coffee until we gave them a couple of options a few days ago. Pending rabbinical approval, we anticipate that the kosher section will be switched fairly soon, as well.

Mauer did express hope that the administration and Aramark would eventually concede to the student body and the Fair Trade Brigades wishes, saying that since they have been willing to work with us in many ways, we are hopeful that they will soon come around and give students what we have asked for in the form of a switch of the rest of campus to exclusively Fair Trade coffee.