The Georgetown Licensing Oversight Committee will enhance its Licensee Code of Conduct monitoring and enforcement efforts, which could affect vendors currently producing university apparel, according to a university statement released earlier this month.

The Code of Conduct seeks to ensure the safeguarding of worker rights in factories that produce the garments.

A stipulation that workers be allowed to form unions and be granted wages and benefits “which comply with all applicable laws and regulations, and which match or exceed the local prevailing wages and benefits in the relevant industry” will be added to the policy, according to the statement.

“Workers are the best judge of their own working condition,” LOC member Sarah Wallace-Keeshan (COL ’08) said. “We do not want to impose Western standards on poorer countries, just to ensure that workers have some basic rights and can maintain a reasonable standard of living.”

With the expiration of the Multi-Fibre Agreement, an international agreement which had previously set quotas on the amount that could be traded from a developing country to a developed one, the LOC has become concerned with licensees shifting their manufacturing facilities to China, where monitoring and enforcement of the Code of Conduct is particularly difficult, according to the organization’s Web site.

“It’s a race to the bottom when it comes to workers rights these days,” Zack Pesavento (SFS ’08), an LOC member, said. “We want to make sure that our sweatshirts do not come from sweatshops.”

The LOC took action against Lands’ End two years ago by refusing to renew its contract with the company.

“The action helped create Just Garments, the first union factory in El Salvador, which produced the spirit T-shirts passed out to Hoya fans at basketball games this season,” LOC member Emil Totonchi (SFS ’06) said.

The current efforts by the LOC have joined a nationwide coalition known as the United Students Against Sweatshops, which is spearheading efforts to ensure that the collegiate apparel industry conforms to higher labor standards.

The LOC consists of faculty members, administrators and students and is chaired by Daniel Porterfield, vice president for public affairs and strategic development. Formed in 2000, the committee seeks to ensure that all apparel that carries the Georgetown logo is manufactured in conditions that safeguard workers rights.

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