The Students’ Association Senate voted against a resolution urging President Thomas Jackson to sign a license with the Workers Rights Consortium Monday by a vote of nine to eleven with one abstention.Students for Social Justice prompted the resolution by circulating a petition supporting the WRC, an independent organization which provides information about factory working conditions. SSJ received 741 signatures.The petition follows last week’s SSJ rally protesting the college’s policy on factory produced clothing. Two main issues arose from the senate debate. Senior and SA President Chris Calo raised questions about whether the resolution would actually improve working conditions and what impact on academic discussion and debate the resolution would have.”Support of these organizations by the university will hinder academic discussion and debate,” Calo said. “Universities should not take positions on decisions such as these when they do not directly affect [their mission].”However, others disagreed about the negative impact to discussion. “That this will hinder discussion [is] a ridiculous assumption to make, because speech is still free, and someone else could do the same protest in the other direction,” sophomore Senator Nat Powell said.Sophomore Senator Jamella James felt that the proposal was worth supporting. “It’s about people here, not just numbers on paper,” she said. But even so, she still appreciated Calo’s work. “What Calo is doing is great because we need to be informed about both sides to make educated decisions.”However, that was not the only issue with the resolution. Some felt that the resolution had basic flaws requiring opposition, such as unjustified and unnecessary personal attacks on Jackson.One part of the resolution read as follows. “Whereas, [Jackson] did not respond to the packet [with new evidence] in any way, shape, or form, and whereas, the University signed a license with Napster using the argument that we, as consumers, have responsibilities to the people who produce the goods we consume,” the proposal stated. “Simply on the basis of problems with this document, we should reject this,” Senator Steve D’Amico said. “It’s going to make us look like fools if we pass this.”Junior and Senator Jack Voorhees also felt that the problem was with the proposal itself rather than the idea of joining the WRC. “I don’t think we are in a position to pass judgement on [the WRC],” he said. “I think this decision is flawed, and we shouldn’t pass a flawed judgement.” Other senators were opposed to making a decision either way.”I feel taking this decision is totally immoral,” junior and Senator Geoff Bowser said. “I don’t dislike people. But I do feel the best way to deal with this probably is not to stop them [child laborers] from working,” he said. “We don’t’ know all the repercussions of what this will do to [developing] countries.”Junior and Senator Alex Brody disagreed with this assessment.”We’re just paying for a reporting service on these factories and what they are doing,” Brody said. “It’s not like we are the first school to join the WRC, there are 122 [other schools].”Some other senators felt that such a service would be a symbolic gesture but not necessary.”It seems to me a very easy decision if it’s in terms of life and death. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is,” sophomore and Senator Noah Lebowitz said. “Until we get to the point where [disagreeing with] this is on a level with genocide, we should try as hard as possible to keep the university genuinely neutral.”Additional reporting by Ben Heaton and Cyrus Levesque. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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