Since 2012, Loras College has had the designation as a Fair Trade College. This distinction has gained strength since then and the College continues to make strides to promote fair trade practices.
According to Director of Spiritual Life and Peace & Justice Stacia (Edwards) McDermott (’03), it is the passion of the students that continues to propel the fair trade efforts.
“It is the enthusiasm of the students that really drives it,” she explained. “It is something students can rally around. They can see the injustice of how we get our products.”
The main idea behind the fair trade effort is to ensure that people who produce goods, such as farmers and artisans, are paid a fair wage for their efforts. By buying goods directly from the producers, distributors are eliminated and producers are paid a wage that they can live on.
“You pay a little more for a product, but it is so worthwhile because you can think about the human beings on the other end of the products you buy,” McDermott said. “It very much fits with our mission and who we are as a Catholic institution.”
The fair trade efforts began in 2009, when Yvette Andersen (‘11) and Kate (Pollock) Russell (‘11) applied for and were awarded a $5,000 grant through Catholic Relief Services (CRS) that funded the start of education and outreach. From there, strategic planning progressed to institutional efforts across campus to create awareness.
Loras was the first Catholic college west of the Mississippi and the first in Iowa to gain the fair trade designation in May 2012.
As part of the ongoing efforts, Loras is committed to providing fair trade coffee and tea in all eating locations on campus. There are also fair trade sales at Christmas and in the spring to encourage fair trade purchases. Even campus programs are making fair trade purchases, including the 2018 Dance Marathon t-shirts.
Beginning in 2014, an additional grant from the CRS provided funding for a paid student worker position to continue awareness on fair trade. In coordination with the Peace and Justice Center, education, outreach and awareness continue to be the thrust of the fair trade initiative.
Jenna Roscopf (’20) is the current fair trade student worker and is responsible for coordinating the fair trade sales, as well as promoting fair trade practices across the campus community. Through her efforts, the proceeds raised by fair trade sales go back into the program to continue the education and awareness.