EDITORIAL: Buying fair: ‘International reach’ can be reality by supporting fair-trade

Herald staff

The issue: WKU could do more to prove itself as a university with the best interest of international partners in mind.

Our stance: Administrators should accept the Student Government Association’s bill to declare WKU a fair-trade university.

We’ve all heard and seen the infamous tagline: WKU is a leading American university with international reach. That’s a great aspiration, but the SGA’s recent bill to support purchasing fair-trade items for campus would make it more of a solid reality.

Sure, there are efforts in place now that aim to fulfill the globalization goal – a diverse international student presence, Chinese Flagship and other exchange programs – but declaring WKU a fair-trade institution would take international reach to a higher, less superficial level.

Fair-trade dealings are important because they imply more than academic excellence. Supporting the bill would show that WKU not only seeks to cultivate international students’ education (ultimately for our nation’s benefit), but also that the university cares about the everyday people in developing countries, whose farmers and manufacturers work hard to provide things we need to sustain our campus life.

Fair trade would ensure a fair price for international goods and services. It would be an expensive measure, but it would also mean WKU is committed to showing that international reach is more than just a slogan on the school’s website. And purchasing fair- trade items for campus eateries and the WKU store is very doable.

Furthermore, enabling fair trade would be a chance for WKU to lead in a new area of university trends and social responsibility. There are only three institutions in the U.S. that have declared themselves fair-trade schools. The campus has done a good job with energy conservation and LEED-certified building adjustments, and this would be another advancement in setting the university apart.

It is unreasonable to think WKU could ever reach the point where all products on campus were fair-trade items. But the fair-trade coffee and tea and the chocolate brand in the Pit Stop are a good start. And supporting the SGA Bill would be the next step in defining WKU as a leading university with international reach in an accurate, long-term and tangible way.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member editorial board.