Fair Trade University agreement

Putting People First

By Eric Spina

One person, working collaboratively with others, really can make a difference.

That realization hit me full force during a press conference last week as I listened to Bradley Petrella talk about student efforts to launch a fair trade campaign on campus. I am so proud of Bradley and this group of committed students for staying at the table, tackling a complex issue and creating change.

Because of their vision and determination, the University of Dayton is now one of fewer than 50 universities in the nation and only the second one in Ohio to receive designation as a Fair Trade University from the national grassroots movement Fair Trade Campaigns. We join two sister Marianist institutions — St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and Chaminade-Julienne High School here in Dayton — in receiving the certification. It’s an important step on our long, continuing journey of upholding the human dignity of all people.

At a celebration last week in the UD Bookstore, we sampled fair trade-certified tea and chocolate and made a pledge to support ethical sourcing. If you missed the event, click here for an excellent video that captures our students’ passion around this issue of faith and justice.

Quietly and persistently, Bradley made our fair trade designation happen in rapid fashion — but not by himself. That’s not the way we confront challenges on our campus. In the Marianist spirit, we step up together.

As president of the New Abolitionist Movement, Bradley worked with other students, faculty and staff to create awareness and help develop a step-by-step plan. He continues to serve on a campus working group for implementing fair trade strategies that is co-chaired by Andy Horner, vice president for finance and administrative services, and Tony Talbott, a faculty member with a long history of fighting human trafficking. 

Last spring, University of Dayton President Emeritus Dan Curran gave momentum to the student movement when he signed a fair trade resolution that called for fair wages and safe working conditions worldwide while committing the University to ethical and sustainable sourcing in areas from dining facilities to procurement.

Three years ago the Dayton city commission adopted a resolution proclaiming Dayton a “Fair Trade City.” By promoting fair labor practices and encouraging the purchase of fair trade goods, our city officials are leading by example in our region.  We are proud to support our local economy — and our local workers — in the same way.

As one of the region’s largest employers and consumers, we buy locally produced food and other products, and we will continue to integrate fair trade practices in how we do business. As we rolled out our new procurement system this week, we integrated fair trade language in our supplier code of conduct. 

I applaud Bradley and his classmates for standing up for our Catholic, Marianist principles and helping us live out the values we hold dear.

Father Jim Fitz, S.M., vice president for mission and rector, reminded us at the celebration last week that the fair trade designation is just a beginning.

“May this commitment align us with Jesus’ call to solidarity with all our brothers and sisters; may it align us with the call of Catholic social teaching, especially living wages for workers,” he offered as a blessing.

“May it fulfill our Marianist dream of touching the poor.”

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