Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GSC Fasts in Support of UPenn Sit-In

GSC Fasts, Supports UPenn Sit-In

By Kristin Bateman Hoya Staff Writer

Earlier this week 11 Georgetown students joined students from over 60 campuses nation-wide in a two-day fast in support of the efforts of students at the University of Pennsylvania, who were staging a sit-in in the office of their university president. The students were demanding that the university withdraw from the Fair Labor Association, the organization that monitors the manufacture of UPenn clothing.

The Georgetown fasters, members of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, pledged to consume only liquids from noon Monday until noon Wednesday or until the UPenn students’ demands were met, whichever came first. However, the fast ended at approximately 10:30 p.m. Monday, several hours after UPenn President Judith Rodin agreed to temporarily withdraw from the FLA pending the recommendation of a committee organized for the purpose of evaluating the different monitoring organizations.

UPenn is the first university of over 130 member universities to withdraw from the FLA.

Wednesday, inspired by the unprecedented results of the UPenn protest, students at the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin began sit-ins demanding their universities’ withdrawal from the FLA. Wisconsin has already responded and decided to drop out of the FLA.

Students at Wisconsin staged an earlier protest one year ago after members of the GSC held an 85-hour sit-in in the office of University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J.

Students’ demands have not completely been met, however. The protesting groups not only demand that their universities withdraw from the FLA but also that they then join the Workers’ Rights Consortium.

The demands of the UPenn student protestors, as well as those of ichigan and Wisconsin, mirror those of the GSC, the campus group that strives to eliminate sweatshop conditions in factories manufacturing Georgetown clothing. This similarity in interests is what inspired the 11 Georgetown students to fast.

“It seemed like an easy thing to do to show solidarity with what was going on at Penn,” said Cassandra Lyons (SFS ’02).

Fast participant and chief organizer of the GSC Andrew Milmore (SFS ’01) said he hopes that the UPenn and Wisconsin decisions will “show the administration that it isn’t unthinkable to withdraw from the FLA.”

This switch from the FLA to the WRC, said -former GSC president and Licensing Implementation Committee member Laura McSpedon (COL ’00) is primarily because the FLA is an organization that was developed without the input of workers and because there are enforcement shortcomings. She described the WRC as an organization with a “more grassroots perspective.”

However, University Spokesman Dan Wackerman said, “The issue resolves around effectiveness of other alternatives.” He explained that he does not see the WRC as an effective alternative since they have not yet had a meeting and are not fully organized.

This is all part of an ongoing debate between student activists and O’Donovan. Last September the Licensing Implementation Committee, a committee comprised of four students, three administrators and four faculty members who organized for the purpose of evaluating factory-monitoring agencies, made an 8-1 recommendation that the university withdraw from the FLA. O’Donovan, on the other hand, declined to accept this proposal, saying that it was incomplete and that they needed to provide him with a more comprehensive strategy.

A more complete proposal is pending and should be submitted to O’Donovan sometime next week, according to McSpedon. At next Tuesday’s LIC meeting, the students will support withdrawal from the FLA and entrance into the WRC. But, she said, other members of the committee might want to reevaluate.

“Hopefully, the UPenn decision will help persuade the Georgetown administration that this is a risk worth taking. to drop out of the FLA and join the WRC,” said McSpedon.

Wackerman, however, said the UPenn situation may not directly apply to Georgetown and that their decision “will not directly affect our work here.”

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