We, members of Emerson P.R.I.D.E. (Progressives and Radicals in the Defense of Employees), are glad that Anna Buckley and the Berkeley Beacon are bringing attention to the issue of conscious consumerism especially in regards to the textile industry. We believe that as students we have responsibility not only as individual consumers, but also as part of Emerson’s community, to use our power as consumers for the benefit of workers.
The Rana Plaza collapse was an unprecedented tragedy that led to the creation of a historic legal document, the Accord of Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, written by workers and factory owners seeking to hold international brands responsible for the safety of factory workers in Bangladesh. Our End Deathtraps campaign on Emerson’s campus succeeded in removing Jansport (a brand owned by the VF corporation who still hasn’t signed onto the Accord of Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh) from our bookstore in 2014. But we can do more.
Wouldn’t it be better if we became proactive against sweatshops rather than reactive to the tragedies that happen as a result? Emerson P.R.I.D.E. started talking with the administration at the end of last semester in hopes of decreasing our reliance on sweatshop labor for our apparel. This would include supporting factories like Alta Gracia, which provides living wages and benefits to their workers,and which already provides some of our apparel. We hope to continue talking with the administration to make Emerson the leader in social justice it desires to be.