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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Fair Trade passes

Published: December 2, 2005
Section: News

A majority of students voted last week in favor of a Student Union referendum that presses for a campus-wide conversion to Fair Trade Coffee.

The petition, which was voted on from noon on November 21 until noon November 23, had a large voter turnout. The final tally was 620 in favor, 259 against, and 43 abstaining with 879 being the total number of votes not including abstentions. A simple majority is required for a petition to become an official opinion of the Student Union while 70.53% of voters voted in favor.

The underlying purpose of the petition was not just to secure an official Union position on conversion to Fair Trade coffee, but to convince the administration that students want this product. The Student Union government itself does not have the power to change the University coffee policy.

However, such a high voter turnout sends a strong and united message to the University administration, according to Aaron Braver 07, Secretary of the Student Union. They know that a majority of the student body supports Fair Trade coffee and are much more likely to make the switch knowing that, said Braver.
Dan Mauer 06, a member of the Fair Trade Brigade, notes that this vote wont change the whole campus to Fair Trade right away. The first step in changing policy is to have all of Usdan and the non-kosher side of Sherman switch to Fair Trade coffee. Hopefully, assuming that students [act] with their pocketbooks, then Java City can get changed early next semester, said Mauer.

Jenny Feinberg 07, Student Union President, will be meeting with Mark Collins, Vice President for Campus Operations, on Monday to discuss the issue. Mr. Collins is said to be excited to convert the campus to Fair Trade coffee, but wanted to make sure that the Student Union approved of the idea. The 70% vote in favor is able to prove to the administration that the student body supports this policy. Java City and Shapiro cannot change yet because of building and contract issues but that will not take too long, said Feinberg. However, all of Usdan and the non-Kosher side of Sherman Dining Hall can switch to Fair Trade coffee very soon.

Despite the clear majority vote, some students are concerned about the change with regard to quality. Ari Schnitzer 07 recently tried the Fair Trade coffee and was dissatisfied. I tried the Fair Trade coffee in Shapiro, the taste and consistency was clearly inferior to the free trade varieties, said Schnitzer.