Approved by the: Student Senate November 29, 2007
Administration - February 25, 2008*
Board of Regents - no action required

* The University of Minnesota supports offering fair trade coffee to campus customers where reasonable, including University residential, retail, and catering operations. In fact, since 2001, University Dining Service (UDS) has achieved a 48% increase in the availability of fair trade coffee to its campus customers, and offers at least one fair trade coffee choice at all locations, and in some venues offers it exclusively. The possibility of offering fair trade coffee exclusively is now automatically a part of the evaluation process when the University considers a new retail location on campus.

As part of their evaluation process, UDS balances social responsibility with customer demand. In response to customer satisfaction surveys, UDS has provided a broader range of coffee options to meet varied customer brand preferences and cost (for example, fair trade coffee can cost anywhere from 12-35% more than non-certified coffees, depending upon the roast and flavor profile). Also as a result of customer surveys, UDS has incorporated national brands like Starbucks, Dunn Bros, and Einstein's Bros - which all offer a fair trade coffee selection, but do not exclusively offer fair trade coffee - into campus offerings. UDS will continue to seek input from its campus customers on a regular basis to assess ongoing customer needs and demand for fair trade coffee.

Resolution on Fair Trade Coffee

Whereas, Coffee is the second-largest legally traded commodity in the world market only behind oil; and

Whereas, Coffee is generally produced in developing countries where workers and farmers suffer from exploitative conditions as well as a lack of access to market information; and

Whereas, farmers are forced to sell their coffee below market value at less than the cost of production and subsequently pushing them into severe hardship or leaving no option but to sell and leave their land; and

Whereas, with Fair Trade Certified coffee farmers obtain prices of 100-200% higher in comparison to non-Fair Trade; and

Whereas, workers on Fair Trade farms have safe working conditions, equity for women, freedom of association, and strict prohibitions on child labor; and

Whereas, the Fair Trade system works within cooperatives where long-term trading partnerships are established allowing farmers to get advance credit on coffee purchases to ensure that farmers can avoid insecurity surrounding the next harvest; and

Whereas, Fair Trade cooperatives are committed to community development and democratically decide on how to invest Fair Trade revenues in infrastructure such as healthcare and education; and

Whereas, Fair Trade coffee uses sustainable production practices, and is often Organic and Shade Grown improving the health of the environment and consumers alike; and

Whereas, the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) surveyed students in 2005 at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Duluth, and Morris campuses and found that 85.8% students felt that it was important to have Fair Trade products provided on campus; therefore be it

RESOLVED that the University of Minnesota require in all food service contracts it signs into with food service providers that all coffee sold on its campus' (Twin Cities, Morris, Duluth and Crookston) must be 100% Fair Trade Certified including all coffee retail locations, catering operations, and residence halls; and be it further

RESOLVED that whenever possible, this coffee be Organic, Shade Grown, and purchased from a local roaster.

COMMENT: The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) looks forward to bringing the issue of Fair Trade Certified coffee at the University of Minnesota campuses to your attention and it is MPIRG's hope that the Student Senate will endorse this resolution.

In 2005 the Social Concerns Committee passed a resolution on Fair Trade coffee stating that Fair Trade should be offered on campus and that when possible, it be Organic, Shade Grown, and purchased from a local roaster. After meeting with University Dining Services/Aramark MPIRG learned that the one Fair Trade coffee option at all of their locations amounts to approximately only 8% of the total coffee on campus. MPIRG hopes that the Student Senate will consider this resolution that takes the motions of the 2005 resolution a step further by requiring that all contracts have 100% of the coffee served and sold at the University of Minnesota be Fair Trade Certified.

It is MPIRG's belief that this is a step that students and faculty of the University of Minnesota support and demand. At the University of Minnesota Morris over 300 student petition signatures have been collected in support of 100% Fair Trade coffee. The University of Minnesota Duluth just began a petition drive on November 9 and they already have 75 student signatures. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus has collected 1,460 student petition signatures , 56 faculty signatures, and 15 student group endorsements including Oromia Student Union, University Pro-Choice Coalition, The Wake, Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists, WomenÕs Student Activist Collective, Anti-War Organizing League, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, La Raza Student Cultural Center, EcoWatch, Vietnamese Student Association of Minnesota, Students United for Corporate Responsibility and Ethics (SUCRE), STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Organization, Democracy Matters, Amnesty International, and Students Against Youth AIDS.

Fair Trade Certification is a viable alternative to the injustices of our current trade system; as stated in the resolution Fair Trade benefits farmers, their communities, and it is better for the environment as well as (U of M) consumers. It is time for the University of Minnesota to exemplify the principles of its students and faculty and become a participant in the Fair Trade movement. MPIRG hopes that the Student Senate will assist efforts in making the University fair and just.


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