Discussion of the full disclosure of Barnes and Noble?s clothing subcontractors dominated the conversation at Wednesday?s meeting of the University Manufacturing Apparel Committee.
The legal ramifications of such an action concerned Director of Purchasing Quentin Roach.
?We need to get to the point of what is full disclosure, besides ?It?s easy to do,?? he said. ?I immediately think, ?Are we going to self-monitor???
Several students felt the information would allow consumers to make educated decisions.
Senior Shawn Goldman, who represents the Students? Association Senate, cited committee member and Professor of Economics Stanley Engerman?s paper, which said individuals rather than monitoring agencies should be investing time and money into researching conditions in factories in question.
Before you can investigate possible sweatshop conditions ?you need to be able to as an individual find out where clothes are being made,? he said.
Junior Alison Cooper, Students? Association president representative, agreed.
?We?re not sending U of R people down in delegations to inspect factories,? she said. ?We need to know on an individual basis so people feel like they?re educated consumers.?
?It?s making the issue a transparent one,? said junior and ex-officio member Sarah Clock, who agreed that self-monitoring is not the goal of disclosure, but simply access to information.
She suggested that one use of the information would be to contact human rights organizations to assure that conditions within the factories were favorable.
Faculty Senate representative and Professor of English Morris Eaves said the debate was rooted in questions of the flow of information at a university.
?There will inevitably be static,? Eaves said. ?But that?s the consequence of the free flow of information. I don?t think at a university we can be against that.?
Eaves however, recommended that President Thomas Jackson, rather than the committee, make the decision.
Roach said that he was not satisfied with the response to his question by other members of the committee.
?When we were looking at monitoring, we had to consider the ramifications for the institution,? he said. ?We owe [full disclosure] that same thought process.?
In order to further educate themselves on the possible effects of disclosure, members chose to invite Joel Friedman, UR?s Barnes and Noble representative, and university counsel to discuss the issue at their next meeting.
Friedman knows the location of UR?s manufacturing sites and could inform the university if the committee and ultimately President Thomas Jackson were to recommend disclosure.
This was not the first time Friedman had been contacted, but inclement weather and illness had prevented him from coming in the past. The committee did, however have a conference call with him last semester.
Committee chair and River Campus Dean of Students Mary-Beth Cooper said that if the group made a recommendation, it should be specific about the extent of the disclosure. She was particularly concerned about keeping information about the suppliers up to date.
The meeting was originally the second of two requested by Jackson, who makes his final decisions on these issues based on the committee?s recommendation.
At Wednesday?s meeting, members chose to extend the committee?s life by holding two additional meetings in April to hear from Friedman and the lawyers as well as to discuss his talk.
Alumni representative Mike Hogan, Engerman and Professor of Anthropology Tom Gibson were not present at the meeting.