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 Tuesday, June 27, 2006 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Your Turn

This new segment featuring perspectives of CU-Boulder faculty and staff kicks off today with the following submissions on our first question, "What topics do you want to explore in this column and why?" To participate, please see the guidelines. The deadline for the next edition is 5 p.m., Wednesday, July 19.

In this issue:

Sweatshops: A Moral and Ethical Dilemma
By Derrick Watson, Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Administration

Last spring some students embarked on a hunger strike to elicit CU's participation in an international labor initiative called the "Designated Suppliers Program" (DSP). The initiative requires designated supplier factories producing CU logo apparel to respect the rights of their employees by offering legitimate employee representation (unions) and payment of a living wage. Currently, CU has a well-established Code of Conduct that addresses workers rights and freedom of association.

CU contracts with licensees (Nike, Reebok, and Champion) to produce logo apparel in over 3,000 different factories throughout the world. Monitoring Codes of Conduct in these factories is quite complex. CU joined the Worker Rights Consortium and the Fair Labor Association to assist us in monitoring and enforcing established Codes of Conduct, as many multinational corporations operate in foreign host countries whose laws and culture are very different than those in the United States. Campus leadership has expressed many concerns about the DSP, primarily the concept of a living wage.

Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu was a very strong advocate of divesting in South Africa during apartheid. Many US companies stated they should stay in South Africa because they paid higher wages and provided other economic benefits to the black African workers. Tutu said, "Your presence is only an attempt to polish my chains and make them feel comfortable. I want to cut my chains and cast them away." I question if DSP is an attempt to polish the chains of oppression.

I've been researching international labor standards, sweatshops, living wages and worker rights issues, and I would be interested in hearing from others on these topics:

  • Does the Designated Suppliers Program as defined seek to address Workers Rights or Human Rights?
  • If CU fully adopts DSP as policy, will it have long-term benefit for the workers in developing nations without damage to the host country overall labor market and economy?

How International Are You?
By Larry Bell, Director, Office of International Education

The Office of International Education is interested in exploring the scope of internationalization on our campus. We know that people are engaged in many international activities on our very active and vibrant campus (e.g. faculty teaching courses with international content, international research projects, and more). Yet there is not much sharing about all of these activities.

Two goals of OIE's strategic plan relate to this effort: (1) to assess how internationalized the CU-Boulder campus is perceived to be and to clarify how internationalized CU-Boulder's administration and faculty want the campus to be; and (2) To partner with other internationally-related functions at CU-Boulder to create an International Center that will keep CU-Boulder among the top universities in the country for international education.

We are also looking forward to discussions with our new chancellor when he arrives regarding his views for internationalizing our campus. We asked him about this during the "open forum" session. He was well informed about our current situation and knew that our international student enrollment is well below that of our peer institutions. He also talked about successes at his previous institution such as international certificate programs for a variety of majors. We are interested in hearing more about his views and his goals.

We would also be interested in hearing from faculty and staff who are involved in interesting international initiatives. We think this would be of interest to the campus in general. For example, articles on any of the following would be interesting: articles by CU faculty or staff who have returned from time abroad as Fulbright scholars; by faculty who do research abroad; by faculty who do collaborative research based here but with colleagues abroad. Articles could be sent to the Director, Office of International Education for publication in our newsletter or to Inside CU.

Taking My Turn – What I Would Like To See Discussed
By Kathy Clegg, Accounting Tech, INSTAAR/Student

As a taxpayer, employee, and student at CU, my opinions come from a variety of perspectives.

I am a taxpayer because—well I don't have much choice in that matter, and it doesn't seem that I have much choice in how my taxes are used either. That figures into the topic I would like to see examined.

My employment at CU has led (as I hoped that it would) to my third status as a student. I have never been disappointed by CU faculty. That is not to say that I am always in agreement with the instructor or the methods. I am always challenged and usually impressed that, in most cases, such an abundance of knowledge has not detracted from their humanity and dedication to the task of teaching.

However, I am disappointed at times in the administration's application of the limited resources. In my opinion, the problems seem to get an unfair share of the pie while the successes are left to struggle unduly.

For instance, our faculty and students have won two consecutive international Solar Decathlons, bringing honors to CU and exhibiting CU's leadership in an area that is crucial to our nation's security and the well being of every citizen. But is that activity supported with enthusiasm and dollars to any great extent? No. Both Solar Decathlons have (and still are) struggling to pay the bills.

Donations are still needed for the 2005 SolarD fund. If you are as proud as I am of the back-to-back wins in this very cerebral and physically draining competition—one that is all about teaching and learning (not just of CU students, but of the thousands of visitors to the National Mall in D.C., including our elected officials), please show your CU pride by sending a donation to the CU Foundation with a note that it should be applied to the 2005 Solar Decathlon fund.

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