An increase in college activism for workers' rights was seen after penn's nine-day protest. The sleeping bags are rolled up, the colored signs have been moved away and College Hall no longer echoes with the sound of bongo drums. But although Penn Students Against Sweatshops has left the building, its impact lingers both on campus and across the nation. After launching the first successful sit-in at Penn in decades, PSAS has managed to attract attention from numerous media organizations from The Philadelphia Daily News to MTV. And members have found support on many other college campuses. Anti-sweatshop groups at other schools fasted in sympathy with PSAS this week and many are holding similar protests for the cause. "The Penn sit-in turned up the heat," said Yale Students Against Sweatshops member Amanda Bell, a senior. The protesters, who had camped out in University President Judith Rodin's office for nine straight days, scored a victory on Monday when the University agreed to pull out of the Fair Labor Association. "We're generally pretty happy with the outcome of the sit-in," PSAS member and College sophomore Roopa Gona said. "We think it's a good first step, but it's definitely not the end." PSAS still hopes to convince the University to join the Worker Rights Consortium, an organization it feels is better able to monitor labor conditions. It hopes to achieve this through the Ad Hoc Committee on Sweatshops, which is looking into the issue and will make a recommendation to Rodin. College freshman Anna Roberts said the PSAS sit-in helped jump-start similar demonstrations at other colleges and universities. "We really feel like Penn had an effect on how fast these other universities reacted," she said. Although sweatshop protests have occurred at numerous institutions over the past year, this month has seen a resurgence of interest in the issue, especially with regards to factory monitoring organizations --Ewith many other student groups joining PSAS in demanding that their school join the WRC. Oberlin College joined the WRC on Monday, and discussions over the WRC are ongoing at Yale, the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Temple University. Following in Penn's footsteps, students at Yale set a March 27 deadline for the school to pull out of the FLA and join the WRC. Yale students held a "knit-in" last spring in front of President Richard Levin's office to urge the administration to pull out of the FLA, after which students and administrators met several times to discuss the school's labor code. The University of Wisconsin at Madison agreed to pull out of the FLA Wednesday evening after more than 70 students held a rally outside Chancellor David Ward's office. Although pleased that the school withdrew from the FLA, the students are not prepared to rest and have been sitting outside Ward's office since Wednesday. They are demanding that the university sign onto the WRC and require the full public disclosure of sweatshops in its code of conduct. According to Wisconsin Alliance for Democracy member Brendan O'Sullivan, a senior, Ward said he would negotiate with the student protesters on Monday. "We will be here until we get our demands back," O'Sullivan said. "We will wait until at least Monday. O'Sullivan said the protesters at Penn have had a positive impact on student activists at Wisconsin. "I think its a great thing, it sparked ideas," he said. "This is the time schools should be taking similar actions." Meanwhile, students at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor are currently holding a "sweat-in" in the office of their dean of liberal arts. The students are sewing T-shirts and paying themselves 30 cents an hour as a symbolic protest, which they are also broadcasting over the Internet. Discussions came to a halt in October, but a meeting is scheduled for next week. And Temple announced this week that it might withdraw from the FLA by March 15 if it fails to prove its effectiveness in ensuring fair working conditions in sweatshops.Comments powered by Disqus
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