SGA pushes for fair-trade designation

Mike Stunson

WKU has long called itself a leading American university with international reach, and now the Student Government Association and the WKU Americans for Informed Democracy are working to ensure that.

The SGA, in accordance with WKU AID, passed a bill Tuesday that will support the declaration of WKU as a fair trade university.

Fair trade is a label guaranteeing farmers in the developing world a fair price for their goods and allows them to invest in education and health care, according to

“Having more fair trade items across the campus is a way we can show we are committed to our mission,” said Charlie Harris, SGA Chief of Staff and co-founder of WKU AID. “This is a way for us to be a program with international reach.”

With the bill passed by SGA, it will then have to be approved by the University Senate and Staff Council before President Gary Ransdell makes the final decision, said Harris, who hopes to bring up the issue at March’s University Senate meeting.

If it is approved, SGA and AID hope to implement more fair trade items into dining facilities, catered events and at the WKU Store.

“I think it would really add to the WKU experience,” Harris said. “It is something that is building across the United States.”

There are now just three schools nationwide that have declared themselves as fair trade universities, WKU AID co-founder Matt Vaughn said.

“It is a great way for WKU to walk the walk about being an international school,” Vaughn said. “We can show the world WKU is not just a small regional campus, but a leader in student engagement.”

WKU AID has been working since the fall semester to raise student awareness about fair trade. The organization had a T-shirt swap in the fall where students could donate shirts for fair trade T-shirts, and it has compiled more than 500 signatures on campus in support of WKU becoming a fair trade university, Harris said.

He emphasized the point of educating students about fair trade.

“Right now a lot of students do not know what fair trade is, so we have to continue to make students aware,” Harris said.

WKU currently sells fair trade coffee and tea at both Java City locations on campus as well as fair trade Divine Chocolate at the Pit Stop and Bate Shop, according to

Vaughn said he knows WKU will never have 100 percent fair trade products but says WKU AID will keep working to raise the number.

“We hope to find new ways to have more items that help make a positive impact on peoples lives,” Vaughn said.