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AROUND HIGHER EDUCATION: Michigan students stage sit-in

(03/19/99 10:00am)

The Michigan Daily ANN ARBOR, Mich. (U-WIRE) -- More than 25 University of Michigan students occupied University President Lee Bollinger's office in the Fleming Administration building Wednesday morning and planned to remain there through the night to demand that administrators adopt a stronger set of labor standards in the collegiate apparel industry. The student activists refused to continue talks with Bollinger and University General Counsel Marvin Krislov after the administrators offered to meet with two of the group's leaders. The students who led the sit in, all of whom are members of Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality, said they want Bollinger and Krislov to meet with the entire group, which is camped out on the floor of the president's office. SOLE and its affiliate organizations on campuses across the nation have said that current calls for tougher standards in the collegiate apparel industry are not strong enough. The Collegiate Licensing Company -- the licensing agent that handles contracts between manufacturers and the university and 160 other colleges nationwide -- has been facilitating talks with various schools to improve working conditions and unfair labor practices in the apparel industry. The university reported more than $5.7 million in revenue from the sale of licensed merchandise last year, the most of any school in the nation reporting similar information. SOLE members said the university needs to commit to full public disclosure of the location and ownership of factories and the living wage -- a salary factoring in local living conditions. Referring to the living wage, Bollinger said "it would be reckless for us to sign on to a concept that hasn't been tested." "It is not the right thing to agree with at this point," Bollinger said. Bollinger said Wednesday night that he was not prepared to announce the university's position on the AIP code.