URI to host sweatshop panel discussion Jan. 30

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Student group urges URI to work with designated suppliers

KINGSTON, R.I. –January 24, 2008—University of Rhode Island Students for Social Change and the URI Honors Program will host a panel discussion on sweatshops as related to URI on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

The discussion will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Atrium II, 50 Lower College Road, Kingston. The event is free and open to the public.

Panelists will be Professor Ric McIntyre, director of the URI Honors Program, Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, and Tom Dougan, vice president for student affairs at URI. Marjorie Johnson and Kelsey Molloy, coordinators of URI Students for Social Change, will moderate the event.

Last year, URI joined the Worker Rights Consortium, a group that monitors the factories where university licensed-clothing is manufactured. The consortium, or any other group, does not have the capacity to monitor all the factories. So it has proposed a Designated Suppliers Program, which would designate certain factories as reliable ones. Those who commit to the program would only receive goods from those factories.

The student group is urging URI to join the program to ensure that all apparel bearing the URI logo is made in factories that meet living wage and labor rights standards.

Some people have questioned whether this program would hinder competition and therefore violate anti-trust laws. So far there has been no clear ruling by the Justice Department. The issue is whether universities should adopt the designated program anyway or wait until the legal situation is clearer.

The purpose of the forum is to debate the issue and also to highlight what the University has already done, as well as raise consciousness about the general issue of sweatshops and globalization.

A question-and -answer period will be part of the event.