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News Services' Press Releases
June 17, 1999

Oberlin College Passes Strong Anti-Sweatshop Purchasing Policy

Media Contact: Mark Graham
phone: (440) 775-8474


The Policy

The College's Memorandum of Understanding

Oberlin Online News Story:
Student Coalition Created Labor-Friendly Purchasing Policy


OBERLIN, OHIO--In his 1999 address at Oberlin College's commencement, John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, said Oberlin's new purchasing policy as "probably the strongest anti-sweatshop agreement of any college or university in the United States."

Oberlin's policy will create a committee to advise the director of purchasing on labor practices of apparel manufacturers. A student intern will be hired to research the corporations' human rights and labor records.

President Nancy Dye ratified the policy in May, after meeting with students from the student organization, Student Labor Action Committee (SLAC). They wrote the proposal as part of United Students Against Sweatshops, a human rights and labor organization.

Students around the country are coordinating anti-sweatshop campaigns through e-mail and phone contact with their counterparts at other campuses. Students at campuses such as Duke, Georgetown, and University of Michigan have lobbied their schools to use only sweatshop-free apparel.

Since its ratification, Oberlin's policy has come to the attention of other campuses. "People have been emailing us left and right, asking us how we did it, requesting hard copies of our policy," says Katharine Cristiani, a junior from St. Louis, Missouri, who has been a leader in Oberlin's efforts.

"This is another historic Oberlin first," says Ursula Lawrence, a junior from Madison, Wisconsin, who co-chairs SLAC. She hesitates to stop there, however. "Our policy is important because it's part of a larger movement. Alone, we won't change Nike or Reebok. It's the movement as a whole that's going to make the changes, not one school."


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