The No-Sweat Coalition has been putting pressure on the University Apparel Manufacturing Committee to endorse full public disclosure of the locations in which UR apparel is manufactured.
Despite this, the committee postponed action on this issue. It questioned whether its charge includes powers to recommend policy changes.
However, full public disclosure is clearly within their power. President Thomas Jackson said in a phone conversation last week that it was well within the committee?s general jurisdiction to offer advice on issues of disclosure and the university.
In fact, Jackson basically recommended full disclosure in his Nov. 15 memorandum that decided against UR membership in any human rights monitoring organization.
The issue is not whether UR should have joined a monitoring organization. The issue is whether or not the community should know where UR manufactures its goods.
At the time of his decision, Jackson included comments from Professor of Economics Stanley Engerman?s majority statement.
Engerman wrote that UR should ?provide for open and unrestricted presentation of the broadest spectrum of issues; then students, faculty, administrators and staff can make their own informed judgments about their preferred means of allocating their time, effort and money.?
For UR to best ?provide for open and unrestricted presentation? of the issues relating to apparel production, it must disclose manufacturing sites so the university community is informed on where its clothing is manufactured. If UR is unaware of where its products are produced, it should add requirements for this to its contracts with clothing producers.
Complete disclosure will allow individuals to make up their own minds about whether a problem exists and how to best solve it. They will be acting with pertinent knowledge of the issue and be self-motivated to act against conditions that bother them.
In addition, the university will not be taking a moral stance on the issue of sweatshop labor ? something it seems unwilling to do. UR will only provide the information that will allow interested parties the ability to take action to change the situation in sweatshops across the world.
Disclosure is the best solution to the ongoing debate of whether UR should join a sweatshop monitoring organization. The committee ? and ultimately Jackson ? should heed No-Sweat?s requests and make factory locations public.