GW Students for Fair Trade achieved one of its primary goals when the Grounds for Change coffee shop opened in the Marvin Center in late September.
The student organization’s leaders said they had been lobbying the University for a fair trade coffee shop for years.
“We all have reason to be proud of our efforts,” said Laura Karr, student organization liaison for GW Students for Fair Trade.
There are also Grounds for Change coffee shops at satellite locations in Duqu?s Hall and on the Mount Vernon campus. Those shops also opened last week.
“The biggest difference in opening Grounds for Change is that it has taken the place of Starbucks in the Marvin Center,” said Karr, a junior.
“It’s a concrete and readily available way to educate the campus community about fair trade and give them an instantaneous opportunity to put their new knowledge into action,” she said.
Casey Pond, director of the Student Association’s Dining Services Commission said opening a fair trade commercial venue on campus is a positive step.
“Grounds for Change is an excellent addition to the GW community, and I believe it will help to instigate dialogue on campus regarding socially conscious trade options,” said Pond, a junior.
He said the Dining Services Commission will continue to work with GW Students for Fair Trade and the University to bring more commercial fair trade options to campus.
University spokesperson Matt Lindsay said student input is always considered when deciding what venues will be offered.
“Feedback from students is a big influence in what comes from campus,” said Lindsay, who is the assistant director of Media Relations. “Basically, it wouldn’t be on campus if we didn’t think students were interested in it.”
Fair trade policy calls for an innovative, market-based approach to business as a means to help sustain a nation’s economic development.
Before they are sold, products must be certified with the fair trade label by Transfair USA to ensure the products are in fact produced under a fair trade model.
“Fair Trade means cutting the middleman to empower the farmer to make decisions about the community they live in and the goods they produce,” said junior Sergio Guzman, trade policy chair of GW Students for Fair Trade.
Since the student organization was formed on campus five years ago, GW Students for Fair Trade has worked to promote responsible consumption. The group has also worked on global justice campaigns like the fight to end agricultural subsidies and unfair labor standards. The organization’s ultimate goal is to make 100 percent of GW’s commerce fair trade certified.
“For farmers, fair trade is the difference between poverty and abject poverty,” Guzman said. “It is not a panacea, but it is an improvement to their livelihoods.”
Grounds for Change is the only exclusively fair trade business on campus.