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Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Press Release: U of Rochester students begin a human rights encampment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 4/11/01

No Sweat Contacts:
Kirk Scirto 274-2904, Ks002h@mail.rochester.edu
Sarah Clock 274-2863, sc007h@mail.rochester.edu

U of Rochester Students Begin
Human Rights Encampment

At 5:00PM, Tuesday, April 10th, students from the
University of Rochester and alumni began a permanent
encampment on the Academic Quad of the campus. On
Tuesday night, 70 students from UR, St. John Fisher,
Roberts Weslyan, Nazareth, RIT, and Syracuse
University occupied the Academic Quad, having a
cook-out, a five-hour concert, and a campout. Eight
tents were set up and covered with cardboard in order
to symbolize a shanty town similar to those in which
indigent UR sweatshop workers currently live. Nine
students and one alumnus spent the night in these
tents, and more will soon follow.
This protest is in reaction to the University’s
reluctance to take responsibility for its contribution
to sweatshop labor used in making UR apparel.
Students demand:
1. That the University request Full Public Disclosure,
or the release of the names and locations of factories
producing UR apparel.
2. That the University adopt a Code of Conduct to end
its connection to child labor, starvation wage levels,
and the physical and sexual abuse of women, among
other measures.
3. That the University sign onto the Worker Rights
Consortium (a nonprofit human rights organization that
monitors apparel-making conditions in factories,
employing Full Public Disclosure and a Code of
Conduct).
The demonstrators have been and are currently speaking
out against the University’s contribution to sweatshop
labor, as apparel at the UR bookstore bearing the
University logo is made under “sweatshop” conditions
likely involving child labor, physical and sexual
abuse, and wages far below levels needed for
subsistence.
While UR students have been raising this issue for two
years, UR President Jackson has consistently refused
to meet with students to discuss the issue and
possible actions to resolve it. Instead, he created a
University Apparel Manufacturing Committee to research
the issue. This committee, composed of
administrators, faculty, and students, decided in a
Majority Report to maintain the status quo. In the
Minority Report, however, students and a professor
suggested that the UR sign onto the Workers Rights
Consortium, a non-profit organization that monitors
collegiate factory conditions all over the world to
ensure that “sweatshop” conditions are exposed and
addressed. Students suspect that the Majority Report
called for maintenance of our current policy in that
eight of the nine committee members are or have been
elected by administrators.
Following its decision, the committee met on February
22nd in order to vote on whether the names and
locations of UR factories should be released to the
University and to the public (“Full Public
Disclosure”). This information is currently withheld
from our University, but is available upon request
from Barnes and Noble College Bookstores Inc. and
would allow the University to begin to gain an
understanding of its factory conditions. However, the
committee members have repeatedly refused to conduct a
vote on Full Public Disclosure upon meeting.
Following a demonstration on March 30th, 35 UR
students, alumni, and faculty marched into President
Jackson’s office and dropped off 497 student petition
signatures as a vote for Worker Rights Consortium
membership, as well as 34 professor and faculty
letters to the President.
UR students and alumni are INDEFINITELY MAINTAINING
THEIR ENCAMPMENT on the Academic Quad until progress
on this issue is in sight. Tonight (April 11th), they
will continue their cook-out, concert, and campout on
the Academic Quad, on which they now live.
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