Make Java City Fair Trade

The University must stand by its principles and respond to consumer-driven justice.

Make no doubt about it: Getting any substantial changes out of University Dining Services – even if overwhelmingly supported by students – is a tough, if not nearly impossible, task.

But who can blame UDS, which basically has become a fronting service for Aramark, the billion-dollar food-service company that has the University by the neck. Money matters here, not students.

The campus chapter of Minnesota Public Interest Research Group is kicking off a campaign to require 100 percent Fair Trade coffee at all University Java City locations. It’s a noble cause and one that deserves the full-hearted support of everyone at the University. Fair Trade is essentially that – farmers selling products are given an opportunity to earn a living wage rather than live in poverty, and without degrading the environment around them and contributing to savage inequalities.

The University’s Morris campus already is a 100 percent Fair Trade campus. The Twin Cities campus should follow suit. The cost difference between coffee prices is small and negligible and Fair Trade distributors only need the go-ahead from the University. This is a simple change – just choosing a better cup of coffee with global implications.

The biggest fight will be with UDS, which continues to ignore students on issues such as declining balanced meal plans, better dining hours and cage-free eggs. Will MPIRG get Java City locations converted to 100 percent Fair Trade coffee? We certainly hope so and support the cause 100 percent.

If students sign on to 100 percent Fair Trade coffee at Java City like we think they will, there should be no reason for UDS to ignore them again. If they are ignored, it’d be a ripe time for students to rally behind dropping Aramark and starting over with UDS from scratch.