Walking around campus, it’s easy to find students sporting their Georgetown spirit. T-shirts, sweatshirts and a whole array of branded products tell passersby that the Hilltop truly bleeds Hoya blue. But purchasing and wearing Georgetown apparel might do more than just radiate school pride; it might fight poverty, too.

The university bookstore recently began carrying a line of clothing items manufactured in uncommonly worker-friendly labor conditions. Alta Gracia Apparel, a specific brand of clothing made by Knights Apparel, the leading college apparel supplier in the United States, manufactures the clothing in Villa Alta Gracia in the Dominican Republic. The defining feature of the brand is its commitment to just worker treatment. The 120 workers employed at the factory are paid a living wage, more than three times the minimum wage, and are allowed to unionize. They spend their days in a workplace tailored to their safety and comfort.

With this step, the university has proven a continued commitment to the welfare of workers. The decision to sell Alta Gracia clothing is a continuation of the socially just outlook that stemmed from the Russell Athletic controversy in early 2009. The sportswear producer, then a manufacturer of some items in the university’s closing line, shut down its Honduran factory, Jerzees de Honduras, when workers there attempted to unionize. Students at Georgetown, in coordination with the national organization United Students Against Sweatshops, protested the Georgetown-Russell Athletic contract. With the support of workers from the factory, the demonstrators convinced the administration to forgo a renewal of the Russell agreement.

The recent shift toward socially conscious contracting has not been isolated to the Hilltop alone. Georgetown has joined numerous institutions throughout the country in choosing apparel companies that support workers as well as profits. A practical application of Jesuit values, the trend is commendable. Both workers and consumers should back the cause.

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