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Posted November 29, 2012


U of G Named First Fair-Trade Campus in Ontario

Guelph - The University of Guelph has been named as the first fair-trade campus in Ontario, thanks to the efforts of the University’s fair trade campus committee.

Fair Trade Canada (FTC) announced the designation this month.

“I believed U of G should participate in the fair-trade campus program because the University has been committed to ethical purchasing and sustainability for many years,” said committee member Danny Liang, a third-year biological engineering student. “Receiving this official designation is a testament to the hard work of many faculty, staff and students, and of the University’s Hospitality Services, in particular.

He added: “Being a fair trade-designated campus means all of the coffee served at non-franchise locations on campus are fair trade-certified coffee, and there will a minimum of three tea options and one chocolate everywhere such products are available.”

Fair-trade coffee was made available across campus six years ago.

Fair trade upholds social and environmental standards to protect food producers and the environment. It is intended to make supply chains clear, to discourage child labour, to ensure fair wages and treatment for farmers and producers, and to protect the environment and workers’ health and safety.

FTC’s campus program recognizes schools’ leadership in supporting the concept. A college or university must meet the program standards, and a fair trade campus committee must apply for designation.

“Guelph joins a growing movement of public institutions taking the lead on social and environmental sustainability,” said Sean McHugh, Canadian Fair Trade Network director. “The University of Guelph has identified itself as a public institution committed to making a difference in the world, and joins a growing shift in aware and concerned consumers looking to make a difference in the world through their purchasing behaviours.”

Other recognized fair-trade campuses in Canada are the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.

Liang said catering through Hospitality Services rather than outsourcing supplies made it easier for U of G to qualify for the designation. The University’s fair trade campus committee works with the Bullring and other campus food outlets to provide more fair-trade options.

“The campus was already most of the way there when it comes to the designation requirements even before the committee was put together, but we continue to work hard to go above and beyond the designation requirements,” he said.

Members of the fair trade campus committee are Liang; Brenda Whiteside, associate vice-president (student affairs); Maurice Nelischer, professor emeritus and sustainability director; Mark Kenny, Hospitality Services purchasing co-ordinator; political science professor Adam Sneyd; and Dominica McPherson, external affairs commissioner, Central Student Association.

Said Nelischer, “We hope that, by acknowledging our commitment to the tenets of fair trade, we can convey how the University of Guelph is addressing all aspects of sustainability in its academics and research and in its operations. Fair trade is critical to creating a just society, which is a critical component of a sustainable planet.”

Added Whiteside: “Working collaboratively with our students, Guelph continues to show leadership in its ethical purchasing policies and practices, and we hope that the focus on fair-trade products will help to extend our program.”

Liang, a President’s Scholar, is an active member of U of G’s Engineers Without Borders chapter. The group has organized events such as panel discussions and movie nights to increase student awareness of fair trade.

“As a campus more than 20,000 strong, our purchasing decisions can have a huge impact,” said Liang. He hopes the new campus designation will inspire students to “think even more deeply about their choices as consumers and to emerge as engaged global citizens.”

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