After receiving designation as a fair trade university from Fair Trade Colleges and Universities USA , Seattle University is now offering a special blend of fair trade coffee at the SU bookstore. Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Dr. Susan Jackels, Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Quan Le, and students of Global Business Club led the effort. They also worked in conjunction with the University of Managua, Nicaragua, and a Nicaraguan coffee cooperative called the Central de Cooperativas de Servicios Multiples Aroma del Café (CECOSEMAC).
Fair trade is an effort to improve economic conditions for agricultural workers in disenfranchised nations. It relies on individual consumers with purchasing power to support products certified to uphold social and environmental standards. These fair trade industry standards include offering better working terms and wages to producers, long term buyer-seller relationships to facilitate effective worker organizations, and an environmentally friendly production process.
Student Government of Seattle University passed a resolution in an eight to five vote in support of the designation. Representatives in opposition expressed concern that the designation did not have requirements that would create substantive changes that the university wasn’t already taking on.
The designation from Fair Trade Colleges and Universities USA comes with a grant to support the on-campus campaign. Vendors are required to offer at least two fair trade certified products at each outlet, which SU achieved before the formal designation. The campaign also includes sourcing more fair trade products at events and meetings and increasing fair trade education in and out of the classroom. This year Global Business Club is focused on deepening SU’s commitment to fair trade practices.
Coffee can be purchased at the SU bookstore for $12.95 per bag. With every purchase, $2.25 will go directly to the farmer and $2.00 will go to an educational fund SU helped establish for the children of farmworkers. SU uses the remaining profit from the coffee sales to buy the next batch of coffee.