2000: CAMPUS NEWS (print version)
activists raise signs over sweatshops
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.
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 university....is 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
"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
in the dorms gets some value-added programming
> Pilot activities for first-years
offer academic support.
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
> Apathetic? Not these students:
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.
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.
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.
Majority Leadership Alliance
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 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
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
> 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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
fraternities to go dry
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.
of the Mind
> The Graham School of General
Studies' summer session features:
the Revolution: Racial and National Consciousness in
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.
& 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
lacrosse sticks it out
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.
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
> First-years' views by the numbers
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
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:
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.
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
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.
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.