Friday, April 18, 2008

Thoughts and Response - the Administration

Hi everyone,

Here are some reactions that I have heard in the past during meetings with HSU administrators. The following includes responses to the alleged issues. Feel free to ask questions, add additions in the comments, or edit this post.

-Kenji (created April 16, 2008)

Arguments by HSU University Administrators:

Issue 1: We don't want to commit to the Designated Supplier's Proposal. The Designated Supplier's Proposal has legal issues; we don't want to be sued or violate CSU laws.

  • We aren't asking you to commit to something that has legal issues. There is nothing illegal about saying, “We like this program, we want to implement it when the U.S. Department of Justice returns with a business review letter, assuming the only thing that changes is a significant and necessary reduction in legal risks.”
  • There aren't any real legal issues anyways. The chance that it can be considered a 'trust' is slim, and probably the only 'issue' that bears any weight. So, in order to appease these fears we will be trying to receive approval from the U.S. Department of Justice in the form of a positive Business Review Letter.

Issue 2: So, we can wait until the U.S. Department of Justice approves the Designated Supplier's Proposal.

  • Why? Possible legal issues? I think we already addressed that.
  • There is nothing illegal with stating support and joining a group to discuss human rights abuses.

Issue 3: The DSP is too political, CSU's can't be involved in politics.

  • Define 'political'? Yes there are politics involved, but when aren't there? There is a significant difference between taking a 'political' stance and taking a stance on ending sweatshop exploitation. Politics are strictly issues regarding the political system. For example, stating that HSU supports a referendum, such as a California Proposition, is a form of making a political stance. Stating that HSU supports a change in sweatshops through an innovative program is, in no possible way, a political opinion, political stance, or political action.
  • Stating you have a problem with exploiting workers is not political. Stating that people are exploited is not political. You are not stating that a specific corporation is doing anything illegal. You are just stating, legally speaking, that HSU wants to ensure that there can be no mistake.
  • If anything, the DSP is strictly business oriented.

Issue 4: What if we do what you say – endorse the DSP – but then realize, later on down the road, that there is a clear and evident CSU policy or Law that conflicts with the DSP

  • Then you can leave the DSP (assuming there is a legitimate reason).

Issue 5: Why do you care if we endorse the Designated Supplier's Proposal right now?

  • It will increase the number of Universities involved, increasing chances for objective reasoning, success, and credibility.
  • In addition, it will ensure that HSU is involved in the process, without a trace of doubt.
  • In addition, it will ensure that HSU will be knowledgeable of the DSP, the WRC, and USAS. Giving HSU an educated choice.
  • Finally, it ensures we're doing something right now, and that even when current students leave, this issue will be alive.

Issue 6: But, HSU is a small University, so we will not produce any real effect.

  • So what? We shouldn't voice our concerns about the exploitation of workers because we're small?
  • It means something to the students, and will still produce effects here at HSU. It will provide credibility, even if only an iota of credibility.

Issue 7: What proof do you have that HSU supports sweatshops?

  • We purchase clothing from apparel corporations that have been known to use sweatshops. However, the DSP is not out to vilify anyone. We understand the relationship between some apparel corporations and factories and wish to repair the flaws. It is our responsibility to ensure that we don't exploit sweatshops, even we exploit them on accident.
  • At the very least, we know sweatshops do exist. Even if we don't use sweatshops, we should still strive to stop sweatshops in general.
  • Finally, this strikes at the heart of the issue. We can't be sure due to the current system of monitoring, so let's make sure. The DSP/WRC have transparency and full disclosure deeply rooted in its core beliefs

Issue 8: Doesn't adopting the DSP admit to exploiting sweatshops?

  • No, it is simply recognizing that there may be an issue and then attempts to corrects the issue.

Issue 9: The DSP has too many interests on behalf of trade unions.

  • Perhaps this is a valid concern. Yet, there are currently no monitoring organizations that can counter the 'interests' of major corporations or individual factory owners that do not care about worker's rights.
  • Even if unions pose a possible source of corruption, this does not mean the Worker's Rights Consortium, the monitoring organization, cannot provide a new way to deal with problems at factories.

Issue 10: There may be legal issues with regards to HSU contracts with companies

  • There is a sufficient grace period to make amends with this issue. The point of the DSP is that you have resources and support (other universities) to work with apparel corporations to make sure that you can legally invoke the principles of the DSP.

Bottom Line:

We only want you to commit to the DSP as far as HSU is legally capable. There will always be legal risks, but not always a necessarily substantial legal risk.


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