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JUNE 2000: CAMPUS NEWS (print version)


Student activists raise signs over sweatshops
> > Mirroring activity on campuses across the nation, a group of College students is calling for the University to join a new sweatshop-monitoring coalition. Citing tradition, the University declines.

For several years now, student activists nationwide have pushed to find out whether their colleges' sweatshirts, shorts, caps, and other official apparel are made in overseas sweatshops. Their efforts--fueled by the same skepticism of international trade practices on display at recent protests in Seattle and Washington, D.C.--received an added boost this spring with the establishment of the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), a national organization that plans to monitor conditions at U.S. and overseas factories where college merchandise is produced.

The question of whether to join the WRC has sparked debate on campuses across the country. After the University of Oregon joined the WRC in response to student demands, Nike chairman and CEO Philip H. Knight backed out of a planned $30 million gift to help renovate the school's athletic stadium. Protests or sit-ins have been held on other campuses, among them the University of Iowa, Tulane, and Yale. Six students at Purdue began a hunger strike on March 27 that ended ten days later when school administrators agreed to accept provisional membership in one or more sweatshop-monitoring groups.

At Chicago, the Student Government and the Anti-Sweatshop Coalition (ASC), which represents 16 recognized student organizations and their 200 members, requested in March that the University join the WRC. After consulting with the Board of Trustees and the Committee of the Council of the University Senate, University administrators decided against joining the consortium. In a March 30 letter to SG and ASC leaders, Arthur Sussman, the University's general counsel and vice president for administration, wrote that the decision was based on "our assessment of the material we have received, our present licensing program, and the traditions of the University."

Sportswear bearing the University name and logo, Sussman explained, is sold primarily at the two locations of the University Bookstore managed by Barnes & Noble. The chain, he said, requires its clothing vendors to provide a statement that all merchandise sold at any Barnes & Noble location is manufactured only in facilities that comply with the standards of the Fair Labor Association (FLA). The FLA--to which neither Barnes & Noble nor the University belongs--was formed in 1996 as part of a White House-backed effort to get businesses and labor and human-rights groups to work together. The FLA is affiliated with more than 130 colleges and universities and--unlike the WRC--with several major clothing manufacturers, including Nike, Adidas-Salomon, Kathie Lee Gifford, and Reebok International. Its principles, though, are similar to those of the WRC and generally ask companies to ensure that their factories meet fair labor practices and provide safe and healthy working conditions.

"To our knowledge no apparel items licensed by the University are being made under conditions that do not meet these principles," Sussman wrote. Chicago's ASC leaders have been urging University administrators for nearly three years to adopt a formal code of conduct for licensing agreements. Holding rallies and circulating petitions, the ASC activists--a core group of about 20, mostly College, students--have embraced the fledgling WRC as the solution to their concerns that the U of C's current system cannot guarantee that merchandise bearing its name and logo is made under fair labor standards.

ASC leader Rebecca Stark, a second-year, explains that as students, "we are directly attached to the University because our financial support goes to the U of C in the form of tuition, revenue from books and T-shirts, and all sorts of other things. If we don't like the way our university does business, we have a right to question it and to ask for change."

The 51 schools that had joined the New York-based WRC as of May 10-including Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois--will require their licensees to provide workers with a living wage, the right to organize, and safe conditions. Member schools must also commit to full public disclosure of factory locations and conditions and agree to help fund the consortium. Institutions that collect royalties from a licensing program are expected to contribute initial dues of 1 percent of their previous year's licensing revenues, up to $50,000; others contribute annual dues of $1,000.

It's the WRC's apparent intention to move beyond a monitoring function to an advocacy role--supporting particular social, political, and environmental positions--that troubles the University administration and faculty, explained Sussman. He noted the University's stance, outlined by the faculty in the 1967 Kalven Committee Report on the University's Role in Political and Social Action: "A a community but only for the limited, albeit great, purposes of teaching and research. It is not a club, it is not a trade association, it is not a lobby."

Although the report does make exceptions for practices "'so incompatible with paramount social values as to require careful assessment of the consequences,'" Sussman wrote, "we do not believe this to be the situation with our licensing program. This statement is not a judgment on the importance of the need for humane labor conditions in work settings, but rather recognition that all providers of apparel under University licenses already have pledged to honor a set of demanding workplace principles, and that to join with other institutions to support a 'proper' code of corporate behavior would be inconsistent with the Kalven Report."

At the same time, Sussman told the students, there is strong feeling that "the issues you have raised about labor and environmental standards in overseas factories, the concept of the 'living wage,' and their impact on matters of the global economy and national public policy should be rigorously examined across the University." To that end, Michelle Obama, associate dean of student services and director of the University Community Service Center, and Alison Boden, dean of Rockefeller Chapel and resident master of Broadview Hall, were asked to arrange educational forums with students on ASC concerns. Two lectures on sweatshops, globalization, and universities took place in May at Ida Noyes Hall.

While ASC leaders say they are pleased by the opportunity to further campus discussion, they still take issue with the school's reliance on Barnes & Nobles's assurances as a sufficient check on sweatshop activity, arguing that the WRC is set up to play the role of an independent, objective watchdog.

"Meeting and discussing has not proven to be enough to spur change," says second-year and ASC leader Cara Kuball. "We must foster a louder student voice on campus and make our presence known. The University has responded that we don't know that these violations exist in factories manufacturing U of C apparel. This is true. It is even more reason to find out whether violations are occurring and to end or prevent these violations."

Life in the dorms gets some value-added programming
> > Pilot activities for first-years offer academic support.

Residential programming at Woodward Court aims to give first-years more academic support, providing a model for similar programming to be offered in the new residence halls being built on campus.

Chosen for the new programs because its mix--70 percent first-years and 30 percent upperclassmen--parallels that being planned for the new residence halls, Woodward Court now offers on-site tutoring and a language commons.

"Students need help in making a successful transition from secondary school, mostly living at home, to semi-independent living and the rigor of a Chicago education," says Michael Sosulski, AM'90, PhD'99, the resident assistant director of student housing who is overseeing the new programs. "Many students turn exclusively to their peers in the dorm for advice and academic support, but we are trying to see whether we can be of even more and better service to them by locating professional, enriched services right where they actually live."

A little-used lounge in Woodward's basement has been turned into an academic tutoring center. Three evenings a week, dorm residents can hone their math, chemistry, and writing skills in groups or in one-on-one sessions with upper-class and graduate students trained as Core tutors.

On alternating Wednesdays, the Academic Skills Assessment Program run by the Student Counseling & Resource Service offers workshops on time management, effective reading, and other study skills. Educational counselor Laura Doto, AM'95, has presented sessions on class-discussion skills and time management, while College advisers have arranged a faculty panel addressing students' anxieties about contacting and talking to instructors. The advisers are also planning forums on transition issues for new students, such as how to choose a concentration.

In a central-floor language commons, funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, students study Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. The commons includes resources ranging from international satellite television (cooking shows in Japanese and docudramas in Russian) to computer software that corrects pronunciation. A language commons Web site, linking to foreign-language and cultural sites, is expected to launch soon. "Learning a language in the lounge is unlike learning in the classroom," says first-year Jennifer Kramer. "You can learn about 'real' culture from watching Spanish music videos in a way different from reading a Spanish textbook." Sosulski expects to refine the most successful services in time for the opening of the new residence halls in fall 2001.--Jennifer Leovy

Cultural Studies
> > Apathetic? Not these students:

Campaign to End the Death Penalty
"Our purpose is to work toward the abolition of the death penalty while fighting for the rights of current death row inmates," says first-year and co-founder David Gardner.

Creative Progressive Action
"We wanted a group that would be dedicated to social-justice issues on a direct-action basis as opposed to a more academic slant, " says member Andrea Pastor, a third-year psychology and English concentrator.

Environmental Concerns Organization
"The main goals of ECO are to foster an environmental conscience among students and to make them more aware of environmental concerns," says member Niels Bradshaw, a third-year biology concentrator.

Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance
"Through raising awareness, education, and action we hope to ensure that women's issues are acknowledged by all, and we hope to work for greater equality both on and off campus," says member Rebekah Lusk, a third-year Law, Letters, and Society concentrator.

South Asia Watch
"South Asia Watch was created as a forum to rethink the multiple renderings of South Asia and the South Asian diaspora... and learn from its regional particularities and commonalities," say co-founders Anisa Rahim, a fourth-year English and South Asian studies concentrator, and Amy Paul, a fourth-year in public policy.

Students for a Free Tibet
"We want to educate others about the situation in Tibet and to encourage them to do what they can to help," says co-founder and president Adrienne Stauffer, a third-year chemistry and South Asian languages and civilizations concentrator.

Lecture Notes
> > Gerald Rosenberg gets down to the day-to-day of law

In examining the nexus of courts, law, and society, Gerald N. Rosenberg, an associate professor of political science and a 1993 Quantrell Award winner, emphasizes the practical realities of law rather than official interpretations.

The reading list for Rosenberg's Political Science 225: Law and Society, taught this past winter quarter, included the professor's own offering, The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change? (University of Chicago Press). In it, Rosenberg discusses the monumental decisions Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade, theorizing that only with political backing and public support can the court system effect real change. Lani Guinier, Michelle Fine, and Jane Balin's Becoming Gentlemen: Women, Law School, and Institutional Change (Beacon) explores the attitudes toward women in law school and the gender gap in grades, achievement, and careers at the country's elite schools. Gerald Stern's Buffalo Creek Disaster (Vintage) examines a case in which a large settlement was procured for residents of Buffalo Creek, Virginia, after a mine collapsed, killing workers and damaging houses. Taken together, Rosenberg's readings are meant to show that law--as practiced in society--differs greatly from law as preached in schools, appellate cases, and textbooks.

"Law pervades all aspects of society in the United States," explains Rosenberg. "There is, of course, the formal legal system of laws and lawyers, judges and courts. But how does law work in practice? This seminar explores the informal, unofficial elements of the law that surround, supplement, supplant, and complement the official, formal elements. In exploring issues such as legal consciousness, judicial biases, and legal education in the legal profession, students develop a more sophisticated and subtle understanding of the place of law in U.S. society."--B.B.

On The Quads

Tuition hike for 2000-2001
The University's college tuition for 2000-2001 will be $24,807. Room and board for first-years will be $8,070, bringing the total for freshman tuition and room and board to $32,877, a 3.86 percent increase from 1999-2000. On a related note, outside scholarships received by students will no longer be deducted from the recipients' University-aid awards.

College to study concentrations
Dean John Boyer, AM'69, PhD'75, wants to evaluate concentrations and determine how the discipline-oriented education can be improved. The College Curriculum Committee, chaired by Lorna P. Straus, X'53, SM'60, PhD'62, professor in biological sciences and organismal biology & anatomy, will organize student focus groups on concentrations throughout the next year.

U of C Center to open in Paris
The College, in cooperation with the Humanities and Social Sciences Divisions, is organizing a University of Chicago center in Paris. The purpose of the center is to facilitate undergraduate language and civilization programs in France, and to offer facilities and resources for graduate students and faculty working in Europe.

Computer equipment overhaul
Last summer, one-third of the computer equipment in the campus residence halls was upgraded. Now the remaining dorm computers will be replaced, resulting in a 50-50 ratio of Macintosh to PCs.

Two fraternities to go dry
In response to alcohol-related incidents in fraternities nationwide, the national chapters of Phi Delta Theta and Phi Gamma Delta have ordered all chapters to cease serving alcohol by July. The U of C's Phi Delts will turn off the tap, while Fiji plans to apply for a two-year extension.

Life of the Mind
> > The Graham School of General Studies' summer session features:

Inside the Revolution: Racial and National Consciousness in Cuba
Anthropology lecturer Paul Ryer, AM'94, examines the effects of the Marxist revolution on racial and national classifications in present-day Cuba, asking what might be learned from a comprehensive, historically situated, ethnographic study.

Life & Death: Microbes, Man, & Beast
José Quintáns, master of the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division, discusses interactions between microbes and their human and animal hosts from an evolutionary perspective, with emphasis on plagues, AIDS, tuberculosis, and other major forms of pestilence.

20th-Century India
Social sciences graduate student Mark Koops-Elson, AM'99, highlights key issues and developments in 20th-century India through the writings of Indian public intellectuals, including Gandhi, social critic V. S. Naipaul, anthropologist Veena Das, and historian Ranajit Guha.

Web Design and Global Cultures
Margaret E. Browning, AM'78, PhD'89, associate director of the Franke Institute for the Humanities, asks how-in various cultures using different languages--print cultures configure perception and cognition compared with how multimedia organizes senses and thought in cybercultures. She also examines the implications of Web design for moral issues and political organizations.

Perspectives on Urban Poverty in the U.S.
Sociology lecturer Charles Broughton, AM'97, reviews competing theoretical perspectives on urban poverty and poverty policy in America. Topics include deindustrialization, the femininization of poverty, and American attitudes toward poverty.

Physical Education

Marquardt makes 500 strikeouts
Fourth-year pitcher Elizabeth Marquardt recorded her 500th strikeout on April 25 as the Chicago softball team faced the University of Wisconsin--Whitewater, splitting the doubleheader. In the first game, Marquardt struck out ten batters in seven innings, bringing her career total to 505. Only 13 other NCAA Division III players have come close.

Echols wins track title
Fourth-year Rhaina Echols won the 5,000-meter run at the NCAA Division III Women's Indoor Track and Field Championship on March 10-11. Her time of 16:41.49 beat the previous record, set in 1991, by 7.3 seconds and carried the Maroons to 12th place in the championship.

Men's basketball scores coach
Michael McGrath has been named head men's basketball coach after serving as interim head coach during the 1999-2000 season. He and assistant coach Rob Passage were named UAA Coaching Staff of the Year.

Women's lacrosse sticks it out
The women's lacrosse team advanced to the Women's Collegiate Lacrosse League playoffs for the second year in a row after beating division rivals Northwestern and the University of Wisconsin in a home tournament on April 22. The Maroons reached the Final Four in playoffs at the University of Toledo where, sporting a regular season record of 7-0, the team beat Truman State in the quarterfinals before falling to eventual champion Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

Softball swings into postseason
The U of C softball team advanced to the NCAA Division III playoffs for the first time in its history, chosen, along with nine other teams, from a pool of independents and non-automatic qualifiers. In the competition's Great Lakes Regional, the Maroons (24-12-1) beat Marian College 5-2, but later lost 3-4 to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and 4-6 to the University of St. Thomas.

Quantitative Analysis
> > First-years' views by the numbers

A recent national survey of college freshmen confirms a common portrait of the U of C student: one who places a greater value on intellectual riches than material wealth.

Last fall, the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) conducted its 34th annual survey to see how freshmen view themselves, their goals, and current social issues. Founded in 1966 by the American Council on Education and now based at UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute, CIRP is the nation's oldest and largest empirical study of higher education.

A total of 261,217 students at 462 colleges were polled, with responses from 767 students in the U of C's class of 2003 compared to those of freshmen at 20 "highly selective" private universities. Among the more telling findings, 44 percent of U of C first-years expect to earn a Ph.D., versus only 29 percent of freshmen in the peer group; 52 percent consider getting a good job an important incentive for attending college, compared to 65 percent; and 88 percent came to college to gain an appreciation of ideas, versus 77 percent.--E.C.

> > Senior class gift organizer Esther J. Last on fourth-years' efforts to bookmark their College years

The tradition of the Senior Class Gift began soon after the University did. Several gifts from the earliest classes still adorn the campus, notably the "C" Bench from the Class of 1903. The custom continues, carried out by students on the Senior Class Gift Committee, working with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. One of the committee's seven members, events chair Esther J. Last, '00, discusses the Class of 2000's plans:

Selecting the gift
While classes have often given benches, clocks, and other concrete things, in recent years they've started giving discretionary funds. This year we wanted something different. We didn't want to be just giving money to the University--we wanted to know exactly what it would be used for. It took us till the end of winter quarter to narrow it down to two choices: a community-service scholarship or a book fund.

What the gift will do
The gift we chose--the senior class book fund--is for the purchase and upkeep of a contemporary-literature and media section for the Regenstein Library. The book fund was suggested by someone on the committee. We really liked the idea, because when you're trying to relax, and you want a reading book at the Reg, you can't find one. The library does have contemporary fiction, but not in the quantity or diversity that the Senior Class Gift Committee feels that it could. This fund will be used to purchase books and media, from the intellectual to the lighter side of contemporary fiction, that the Library would not otherwise be able to obtain. The fund will be endowed, so money will be released every year to buy 50 or so books. There's going to be a Web site where you can see what books are in the collection and make requests for new titles.

Giving incentives
An anonymous trustee will donate $25,000 if we get 60 percent of the class to participate. Last year the class raised nearly $8,000, so we're shooting to raise that on our own. We've designed book plates, and people who donate $2 or more will have their name in one of the books. You get to leave not only your class's mark, but also your own mark. We'll formally announce participation and fund-raising results at the fourth-years' annual Museum of Science and Industry Night on June 9. The library will start purchasing books in the fall.

Future alumni
Part of the appeal of the book fund is that any money we donate later, we can have funneled into the fund. It's something we can keep giving to. This gift certainly promotes giving--even if it's only $2, $10, $25, it makes a difference. It goes to something we saw being started and we want to continue. It's that mentality we're trying to develop among seniors. We want to get people into the mood of, "Yeah, we're about to become University of Chicago alums." --B.B.

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