ACADEME TODAY for Wednesday, February 10, 1999

Sit-In Ends in Agreement at Georgetown; U. of Wisconsin Students Join Anti-Sweatshop Movement



Students at Georgetown University ended a four-day sit-in in the president's office early Tuesday after administrators agreed to enforce tougher labor standards for manufacturers of university-licensed products. A similar protest, meanwhile, began Monday at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, involving more than 60 students.

Fourteen colleges, including Georgetown, working with the Collegiate Licensing Company -- which serves as the licensing agent for the logos of more than 160 colleges -- developed a proposed code of conduct last year for the licensing of college apparel. But students at many institutions have complained that the guidelines would not do enough to insure that the products would not be manufactured under sweatshop conditions. Officials at Duke University toughened their stance on the issue this month after students protested there. Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill staged a march Tuesday to protest what they perceive as the code's shortcomings.

Georgetown administrators followed Duke's move at 1 a.m. Tuesday. They agreed on measures to require manufacturers of university-licensed products to make a "full disclosure" about where their products were produced and the working conditions in those factories.

"All along, the administration and these students have agreed on the goal of achieving full disclosure," said James A. Donahue, Georgetown's dean of students. "We just disagreed about the best way to achieve that goal."

Just hours before the Georgetown protesters signed an agreement with the university's dean of students, a student group at Madison overtook the hallway outside the chancellor's office there. The group of 60-odd members of the Madison Anti-Sweatshop Coalition say they believe that the proposed code of conduct isn't strict enough to end the use of "sweatshop" production of products, and are demanding that Chancellor David Ward renegotiate the code to include strict language on disclosure, wages, women's rights, and other issues. If such language cannot be worked out, the students say, they want the university to drop out of the Collegiate Licensing Company.

Mr. Ward said that while he shares many of the students' concerns with the proposed code of conduct, he believes that the document can be improved through the normal course of negotiations in the months to come.

The protesters "feel it doesn't go far enough, and we believe it has gone far enough to continue to negotiate," Mr. Ward said.

The chancellor said that he would refuse to sign any deal proposed by the student protesters, who in turn said they would not leave until he signed such an agreement.

"I'll read their document, but I'll keep my own counsel," he said. As far as the hallway protesters, now numbering around 20, Mr. Ward says they are free to stay. "As far as I'm concerned, as long as they're responsible, then they're just exercising their free-speech rights."

Background stories from The Chronicle:

Copyright 1999 by The Chronicle of Higher Education