GU Begins to Organize Licensing Committee

By Andy Amend Hoya Staff Writer

Students and administrators have begun organizing the university’s Licensing Implementation Committee, which will address issues related to the production of Georgetown apparel by licensed manufacturers. Dean of Students James A. Donahue said he hoped to have the committee together by a few weeks after spring break.

The licensing committee was created last month as part of an agreement that ended an 85-hour student sit-in in the office of University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J. The students, led by members of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, were attempting to persuade the university to take stronger measures to ensure decent working conditions in factories making Georgetown clothing.

Student representatives have met twice with Donahue, who will be on the committee, in the past two weeks. Topics of discussion have included committee membership and a possible agenda for the group’s first five meetings.

“Things are going very smoothly,” said Solidarity Committee President Andrew Milmore (SFS ’01) of the discussions.

The committee will have 11 members. Including Donahue, two other administrators, four faculty members and four students, will comprise the committee according to the agreement that created it. While faculty and administrators have yet to be named, O’Donovan will select four students from among two pools of nominees – one drawn up by GUSA and the other by the solidarity committee – to be turned in to Donahue today, according to former Solidarity Committee President Ben Smith (MSB ’99).

The six nominated students are Dan Smith (LAW ’01), ichael Levinson (MSB ’02), Luke Young (SFS ’01), Laura cSpedon (COL ’00), Chris Hagan (COL ’02) and Adam Smith (SFS ’02). Ben Smith and Milmore met Thursday with nominated students except for McSpedon, who was abroad.

Mark Lance of the philosophy department, as well as Sam Marullo and Elizabeth Samworth of the Volunteer and Public Service Center, were among faculty members who had been discussed as possible committee members, Milmore said.

Yesterday, Ben Smith discussed possible committee agenda topics that students have mentioned, many of which pertain to Georgetown’s relationship to the Atlanta-based Collegiate Licensing Company and to the agreement that created the licensing committee.

Donahue did not comment on any specific topics that might be part of a licensing committee agenda but emphasized that it would be necessary to inform committee members up front about how Georgetown licenses its logo and other related issues.

The Collegiate Licensing Company acts as a liaison for approximately 170 schools nationwide and the companies who produce their apparel. A task force convened by the company made up of representatives from 14 member universities, including Georgetown, released a code of conduct for apparel manufacturers last fall.

Members of the solidarity committee asked the university to reject the code because they said it did not do enough to combat objectionable labor practices. After the university announced its attention to endorse the code anyway, students held a rally in protest on Jan. 29 and began the sit-in one week later.

The primary concession students won as a result of the sit-in was an agreement for the university to demand full public disclosure of factory locations from licensed Georgetown clothing makers. Those manufacturers who do not give the university a list of factory locations by next Feb. 12 will have their contracts terminated, according to the agreement.

Another part of the agreement holds that Georgetown’s endorsement of the Collegiate Licensing Company code will be contingent upon the company’s making substantial progress on issues including factory location disclosure, wages, universal compliance with the code and independent monitoring of factory conditions. The Georgetown licensing committee will be responsible for evaluating the licensing company’s progress on these matters.

Ben Smith said students nominated for membership on the committee would like to see Georgetown send a copy of its agreement to all 170 licensing company members along with a cover letter explaining its origins and purpose. The students would also like committee members to receive and examine a copy of Georgetown’s contract with the Collegiate Licensing Company and at least a sample contract of a Georgetown apparel licensee, he said.

In addition, students want committee members to have copies of the Georgetown’s letter to the Collegiate Licensing Company announcing its intention to seek factory location disclosure from licensees, Ben Smith said.

Ben Smith emphasized that the students’ proposals for committee discussion topics were still subject to change. However, he did mention a few subjects students would like to see addressed, the first of which was how to communicate with other schools on the topic of factory location disclosure.

Collegiate Licensing Company member institutions Duke University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, have also agreed to seek factory disclosure.

Students have also suggested that the committee discuss of the concept, possibly in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin, of a “living wage” that would adequately meet the needs of workers for food, shelter, clothing and health requirements.

Because “living wage” is not a universally defined economic term, the University of Wisconsin has decided to convene a colloquium this semester to examine how living wages might be formulated. It has been a complaint of the solidarity committee since last fall that the Collegiate Licensing Company code of conduct did not guarantee a living wage.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.