To the Editor: In an editorial yesterday ("Still stalling on sweatshops," The Daily Pennsylvanian, 9/14/00), the DP criticized the University for its "stubborn refusal" to join either one of two organizations set up to monitor labor conditions in factories overseas that make Penn-logo apparel. The criticism is inaccurate and unfair. There is nothing "stubborn" about the process the University is engaged in, and the University has not "refused" to do anything. Last spring, the president appointed a Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility, a standing committee of faculty, students and staff, including two members of Penn Students Against Sweatshops. I am the chair of the committee, which was mandated by Penn's new Code of Conduct and which is charged in part with making a final recommendation on the monitoring organization(s) Penn should join. Members of the committee met over the summer to review the issues, but it was impossible to bring the full committee together, given summer vacation schedules, until now. Our first official meeting will take place this month, and we will promptly and fully review the pros and cons of joining the Worker Rights Consortium, the Fair Labor Association or both. We expect to carefully consider, among other things, the opportunity each organization provides for meaningful university participation in its governance structure. It is worthy of note that neither the FLA nor the WRC has begun yet to monitor factories, so it is simply not the case that Penn is "late" in making a decision, in any meaningful sense. The Penn Code of Conduct mandates that the committee meet twice a semester; however, as requested by the president, I intend for the committee to meet as often as necessary this fall in order to make our final recommendation no later than Thanksgiving. Our committee is committed to playing an active role in bettering working conditions for apparel workers around the world. In order to do this and to make the important recommendation we have been asked to make, we need and deserve an opportunity to be fully informed. I hope this process of learning and evaluation will take place in an atmosphere of objectivity and respect for the intellectual traditions of this great University.
Gregory Possehl Chairman Anthropology Department
The writer is chairman of the University's Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility.Comments powered by Disqus
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