Rockhurst University Earns Missouri’s First Fair Trade University Designation

Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Rockhurst University's Bell Tower

On Thursday, Nov. 10, Rockhurst University will become Missouri’s first Fair Trade University as designated by Fair Trade Campaigns, the result of an effort by students to ensure that goods the University buys and sells don’t come at the expense of the workers who make them.

With the recognition, Rockhurst University joins more than 260 fair trade towns, schools and higher-education campuses worldwide that have earned fair trade designation. At a short ceremony scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday in the University’s Massman Hall Gallery, University students will accept the official designation, and University President the Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J., will deliver remarks.

Working with the Fair Trade Campaigns organization, the Rockhurst University Fair Trade Initiative formed in 2014 to continually raise awareness of fair trade issues on campus, although other students had been working toward certification for years beforehand.

“It’s a great feeling to have 15 years of Hawks behind us helping with this goal and it’s great to be the first in the state to earn the designation,” said Nick Bader, a member of the Rockhurst University Fair Trade Initiative. “At the same time, we also want to make sure that this initiative continues.”

In addition to establishing a formal organization, as a designated fair trade campus the group is also required to provide educational events for students to learn more about fair trade practices; ensure that fair trade products are available when possible through University retailers, dining service providers and at meetings and events held on campus; and pass a resolution through the student governing body with the University President’s signature affirming the institution’s commitment to fair trade education.

“We really hope that this will make people on our campus more aware of issues surrounding fair trade and hopefully inspire us all to make ethical decisions with our money,” said junior Lis Schumacher, one of the students who helped organize the initiative.

Bader said the Rockhurst University Fair Trade Initiative also found plenty of supportive faculty and staff from across the University’s departments who worked with the group to reach those goals.

“I’m proud of the students who worked so diligently with our staff to earn the Fair Trade University designation,” said Gerald Moench, the University’s chief financial officer. “This designation is not meant to be just a pat on the back or an award for our shelf — instead, it’s a reminder to our University community to always strive to move forward with ethics and our Jesuit commitment to social justice in mind."