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SFU named “Campus of the Year” by Fair Trade Canada

SFU opened the first fair trade Starbucks in Canada in 2013
SFU opened the first fair trade Starbucks in Canada in 2013

At an awards ceremony last Thursday, September 11, in Ottawa, SFU was named “Campus of the Year” by Fair Trade Canada. The university beat out Canada’s other fair trade campuses — UBC, McGill, Ottawa, Trent, Guelph, Brock, and Selkirk — to win the inaugural award.

Mark McLaughlin, SFU director of ancillary services, spoke to how this award reflects the hard work SFU has put in over the past two years. “SFU has played a leadership role in Canada within the Fair Trade Campus movement, because it believes that when we all work together, we can make a difference improving the lives of farmers, artisans, and their families in developing countries.”

SFU showed its commitment to the movement in 2013 with the institution of Canada’s first fair trade Starbucks on Burnaby campus. SFU has also reached out to other campuses across Canada to support them in their own fair trade initiatives.

“The more campuses you’ve got on board, it’s really going to have an impact with the farmers and their families in developing countries,” said McLaughlin. “You can change the world with a cup of coffee.”

Consideration for the award is based on the three fundamental criteria of the Fair Trade Campus project: availability, visibility, and continued momentum. Fair trade products must be made available to students, with sales targets on these products, and the school must work to increase awareness and provide education surrounding fair trade.

The “Campus of the Year” distinction is given to a school that not only maintains Fair Trade Canada requirements, but goes above and beyond them. “We could have been a fair trade campus and kept it local, but we felt we had an opportunity to leverage our campus, and to play a leadership role. Our president asked us to go out and engage the world,” said McLaughlin.

SFU’s students have also taken an active role in the movement. They began the initiative to make SFU fair trade 10 years ago and continue to play a role in the process today.

SFSS president Chardaye Bueckert commented on SFU’s fair trade initiative and the efforts made through the SFSS-run coffee shop, Higher Grounds. “The SFSS is proud to serve fair trade coffees through Spirit Bear,” she continued, “We are proud of the prestigious award that SFU had won and are also proud of our contributions to encouraging fair trade practices on our campus.”

The next step for SFU in the fair trade fight concerns the Tim Hortons on campus, which, although exempt from the fair trade regulations because of its franchise status, has been pressured to provide fair trade options. The university disallowed Tim Hortons from selling their new dark roast coffee on campus because they want any new products offered to be fair trade.

“Tim Hortons really sticks out like a sore thumb on our campus because they have no fair trade coffee,” McLaughlin said. “We’ve let Tim’s know that their days are numbered if they don’t switch to embrace fair trade.”

McLaughlin spoke to the nature of fair trade in relation to all SFU students: “Fair trade resonates with our students because they come to our university with the hope to make a difference and change the world. By supporting fair trade, they are making this impact.”

In honour of the success of the fair trade initiative, this Tuesday, September 16 will be declared Fair Trade Day at SFU. The day will be celebrated by an event in Convocation Mall open to the SFU community, where President Petter will accept the “Campus of the Year” award.

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