On Thursday, April 27, St. John's University became a designated Fair Trade University by Fair Trade Campaigns, a subdivision of Fair Trade USA.
This is a nonprofit organization and the largest third-party certifier of fair trade products in the country. St. John's is the third Fair Trade College or University in New York City, the fifth in the state and 42nd in the nation.
Fair trade is an economic system that ensures consumers the products they buy are grown, harvested, crafted and traded in ways that improve lives and protect the environment. Above all, it provides opportunities for international farmers, artisans and workers to lift themselves out of poverty, an aspiration aligned with Catholicism. That means that these products are locally made and grown, helping out small businesses.
"The Office of University Mission was very receptive to the idea of us becoming a fair trade school," said Alexia Dolanakian, a sophomore majoring in business management. Dolanakian is on the Fair Trade committee for Catholic Relief Services.
To achieve fair trade designation, colleges and universities must complete five objectives: assemble a fair trade leadership committee; work with campus vendors to make fair trade products available; serve fair trade products at meetings and events; promote fair trade education in courses and at events and pass a fair trade resolution. The University achieved these goals through the collaboration of numerous offices and organizations, including St. John’s for Fair Trade, Campus Ministry and Catholic Relief Services ambassadors.
Catholic Relief Services ambassadors on campus are part of a national community of students committed to advancing global justice, peace and human dignity.
"When I joined CRS last year around this time, very few students knew what fair trade was. Now, a lot of professors and faculty know about fair trade and CRS, and they talk to their students about it. It is a solution to so many problems," Dolanakian said.
Other schools that are Fair Trade Universities are Villanova University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Drew University and University of Vermont.
Lead Image Credit: DiGiMeeN via Flickr Creative Commons