Local News

Duke Students Want Anti-Sweatshop Guarantee

Posted November 3, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Following a movement under way at 30 colleges and universities across the country, Duke University students want anyone who makes products licensed with the Duke logo to tell exactly how and where the clothing is made. They hope to ensure that the hats, shorts, sweatshirts and other products sporting the university logo have not been manufactured in sweatshops.

Products bearing university emblems have been getting even more attention lately than the promotion-oriented items are intended to draw.

At the University of North Carolina, it's the uniforms and footgear supplied by Nike, which has also provided $7.1 million for the school's 28 athletics programs if they use Nike gear exclusively. A group of UNC students claims the company, famous for the swoosh, is also infamous for forcing its employees in Southeast Asia to work in sweatshop-like conditions, underpays the workers and mistreats them.

Nike has already cut ties with four Indonesian plants it deemed as "sweatshops." Nike Chairman Phil Knight made the announcement in September after visiting several of its Asian plants. Other factories in Korea and Vietnam made the cut. In fact, a study by Dartmouth College found Nike workers had higher than average annual incomes compared to other factory workers in Asia.

Students Against Sweatshops is a grass-roots organization that has chapters at 30 different universitites. Each school is developing its own agreement.

The code of conduct would affect products that have both the Duke name and the license granted by the university to approved manufacturers. Logo-emblazoned merchandise produced by manufacturers who do not obtain the requisite university permission would not be reached by the code.

Student Adam Sommer said he thinks people buy things without knowing where they come from. He thinks Students Against Sweatshops will raise awareness.